Monday, January 30, 2012

Living Chemical Free

One thing that has been important to my family over the past couple years is going chemical free in our home. It hasnt always been easy, and it certainly didnt happen overnight. We started out just wanting parabens out of our cosmetics and soaps etc., and now we are at a point where we are truly a chemical free home. Parabens were important for us to eliminate because we learned that they were hormone disrupters. We assume because we can buy our cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, etc. at any store, that some big wig in a lab coat has made sure that it is safe for our well being. The truth is, most of these come to us almost unexamined by the federal government. There are over 20,000 chemicals we use on a daily basis that have never even been looked at or approved by our FDA. We see recalls frequently because of this. My number 1 rule to replace something in my home is that is has to work as good as, or better, than what it is replacing. 9 out of 10 times we find that the natural solution works BETTER than what we were using before!!

After replacing the chemicals we used on our skin on a daily basis, we started learning more about the chemicals we use to clean our home! I have struggled with asthma my whole life, and really hated that there were toxicity labels on all of my home cleaning products. Typical cleaners not only do a number on your eyes, airways – and with enough exposure – your nervous system; they now contaminate more than two-thirds of U.S. streams. Largely because of chemical cleaners, our indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than the air outside!

We started with a cloth system that kills germs, but I really was missing the “clean” smell that my chemical cleaners left behind. After doing some research, I found I could make my own cleaners and I could make them smell good (instead of just like vinegar). Speaking of vinegar, did you know it kills as many germs as bleach?? Gotta love those results! Below I will share a few of my favorite cleaning recipes!!

If youd like to learn more, you are welcome to come to our next Holistic Moms Network meeting held the first Tuesday of every month at Elegant Mommy!! We start at 6pm sharp!!

~Danielle McClure
Holistic Moms Network
Sioux Falls Chapter Leader

Lysol Alternative
1/2 cup distilled water
1/2 cup vodka
25 drops orange oil
15 drops lavender oil
15 drops eucalyptus oil
Place all ingredients in a spray bottle, cap and shake well. Shake prior to use.

This one gets rid of urine smells!! A must if you have kids or pets!!
2 cups hot distilled water
3 T baking soda
1 T borax
12 drops essential oil (orange or lavender)
Place ingredients into a spray bottle, cap and shake well. Shake prior to use.

Minty Glass Cleaner
The mint is also an effective insect repellant, helping to keep ants and mice from coming into the home.
2 cups vinegar
1 cup water
1 t castile soap
35 drops peppermint oil
Place all ingredients in a spray bottle, cap and shake well.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Organic Living

Hello my name is Rosalie Evans; Realtor®, working mother, treehugger and organic fanatic are just some of the roles I fill. While my girls Dana Jean (age 15) and Anna Christine (age 10) do not always understand or condone my choices I will continue to make them for my family in the best way I see fit.

We as a family eat 90% certified organic food. We eat food prepared from scratch and nothing that has been processed in a conventional factory. We drink raw milk and only eat certified organic meat. While you would think that it would take longer to prepare meals it really doesn't. And meals can be prepared in bulk during slow times to be used during busier periods. While organic foods are more expensive we do save a lot of money by not buying junk foods. We also buy local when at all possible by buying through our local food coops. It takes a bit of planning but it is well worth it to buy local and prepare fresh. The kids do get their 10% junk food and we have been known to eat fast food at times as well. It is all about having some flexibility when working with kids so you don't have yourself a mutiny.

We also as a family engage in daily exercise. Either through school activities or the gym we try to get at least 30 mins of activity daily. We are not perfect by any sight but we do try. Even if it is nothing more then parking further away from the grocery store or walking the stairs instead of taking the elevator we do something everyday.

Other steps we have taken to stay healthy is to use safer toiletries. We did a lot of experimenting with first natural based products and then if we could not find something natural that worked we went to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to find a safer alternative. I would say that a good half of the products that I use are actually edible and the other half only have minimal toxins. On the same token we also only use Western medicine if we are really sick. I have banned anti bacterial soaps, lotions, or other product from my home due to fear of antibiotic resistance. Care is also taken with household cleaners to only use safe ones. We use very few actual products for cleaning and we have a very clean house. Vinegar and water and a steam cleaner will clean up the great majority of all messes.

So while my beliefs are not conventional, and some people think I am a little weird, that is okay. We rarely get sick and we have very little exposure to chemicals and toxins. Someday my girls will figure out I am not totally clueless and by then they will have some very healthy habits. If anyone has any questions for me please do not hesitate to message me on FB.

~Rosalie Evans

Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Journey to the New Store

In Early 2011, we knew that we needed to start looking for a new location for Elegant Mommy. Our lease was up at the end of the year and it was time for us to look for a permanent home. After 4 years we knew that we were going to make it through thick or thin and it was time to cement our presence in our community.

As we were looking for a new home, it was important to find somewhere that we could own and start to build equity. It was also important for us to find a location that would allow us to have a nice community area where we could have classes and other events.

We looked at a few different places and even made an offer on one place that fell through. After a long 3-4 months of looking and not seeing what we were looking for, our broker happened to remember a place that wasn’t even for sale, but he knew that it would be coming up for sale sooner or later. He made a few phone calls for us and the next thing we knew an offer had been given to the owner. Because the owners were in a partnership (of which ½ of the partnership was in Japan), we had to get a power of attorney from a man in Japan who had not been to this building for at least 20 years. It took us about 3 weeks to get the power of attorney and it took us another couple of weeks to get all of the paperwork done for the SBA side of the loan. We ended up switching banks a few times as well until we finally found a fantastic bank that has worked with us on small business financing (Reliabank).

November 17, 2011
We closed on our building in the middle of October and immediately starting clearing out all of the junk that was in there. Someone literally walked out of this building one night and never came back. In addition to all the “stuff” left behind, the building had gone to disarray in recent years because of some medical issues with the previous owners. It had not been loved for a few years and definitely needed some TLC. We knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us, but we have never been afraid of work and we knew that it was going to be such an amazing place for our community in the end. From the day I walked into this building, I had a vision of exactly where everything would be and how it would look; it has not changed much from my original vision.

October 18, 2011
In one weekend, we filled an entire roll-off garbage dumpster with contents from the store. It only took us about 2 weeks to fill another entire dumpster. One of the first things that we did was put a new roof on the building, and this was completed before the end of October. While that was being done, we completely gutted the inside of the building, down to bare cement floors and bare concrete walls. There were 2 VERY tiny bathrooms which we knocked out and made into one nice size ADA approved bathroom (which required us to hammer out the concrete on floor to move the pipes…this was the first large unexpected expense). After the inside was gutted, we moved on to windows. The building had 4 total windows (not including the front entrance), which were probably there since the building was originally built. We replaced all of the existing windows with operable sliding glass windows and added in 2 more large windows to the west side of the building. We did not expect the cutting of the concrete for these windows to be as difficult nor time consuming as it was. We ended up having to hire a special company to complete the cutting of the concrete for us…this was the second large cost that we didn’t expect.

We then started the framing, insulation, and sheetrock work. This part is where we saw some amazing friends begin to demonstrate some amazing generosity. We had many people come help my husband and myself during this process. Lots of volunteer hours went in to making this part come together. Even after the sheetrock work was done, we had some great friends help us with the flooring and painting as well.

In the middle of all of this, we had a LARGE setback which caused many tears to be shed…

Because we had been pushing so hard to get everything done, my husband and I decided it would be worth the money to hire someone to finish drywall work on the ceiling and texturing the walls. We hired a contractor that my husband knew through someone else and expected the work to be done in 1-2 days. After multiple issues with this contractor not showing up and not doing what had been promised, we decided to let him go after 3 days and hire another contractor we had known for years. The first contractor did not like being let go from the job and caused MANY more issues for us, including a visit from an inspector with the state and in the end, all of the things we had to go through in order to satisfy the state’s requirements ended up costing us nearly $7000 (that again was not in our budget).

Looking back on all of this, I am glad that everything played out the way that it did…it allowed us to spend the Christmas holiday focusing on Christ and not on our store. It helped us renew our faith that God will provide for His work to be done and we would get through this.

After Christmas, we got started again on finishing the new store and packing up the old location. We got the entire store inventoried, torn apart, packed, moved to a storage unit and painted in less than a week. Because the new store was not ready for us to move in yet, we had to move EVERYTHING into a storage unit for a few days before we could start moving in to the new place. After we got the okay from the city building inspector to start moving things in, my INCREDIBLE employees kicked in to overdrive. They got the entire store set up and ready in just a few short days.

In the middle of all of this moving and setting up, I had to go to Watertown to take care of that store as well. While I was gone that day, my employees built our wonderful checkout area and got a good majority of our inventory put away and organized! I was so relieved to have this part taken care of! The next day I started feeling not so hot and by Sunday, I was completely out of commission. I couldn’t enjoy our opening day as I was home sick in bed with strep. Once again, my great employees kicked into overdrive and they got the store running smoothly the first day open at our new location.

January 16, 2012
We still are not completely done – we have the back of the store to finish (which will house our office space, community space, and Educated Mommy). We have made incredible progress in only a few short weeks and have endured so many extra costs that we never could have expected. We are so close to finishing the vision that we have always had for this space and we have faith that somehow God will show us where the rest of the money and resources will come from to finish this project. The good news is that the back area does not need to have a lot of “outside” contractors. No plumbing, minimal HVAC work, and minimal electrical work. We also need to figure out how we will make the outside look like our vision, but I’m sure it will all come together.

I really want to take this opportunity to formally thank everyone who has helped us through this journey. Whether you have been there hammering, cleaning, painting, or hauling or if you were simply praying for us during this journey, Thank You. Elegant Mommy always has and always will be a resource in our community. We strive to make sure that we are able to educate on so much more than just maternity clothes. We want to make sure that everyone is able to make an informed decision on what is best for their family, not what is “right” according to someone else’s standards. I look forward to all of the exciting classes, workshops, groups, and events that will be held in the community room of our building and I look forward to serving every one of you during your parenting journey!

~Shelly Gaddis, Owner 
Elegant Mommy

Friday, January 20, 2012

Living a healthier lifestyle – where to begin?

Our family’s journey to healthier living began one year ago. Right after Christmas, our daughter broke out head to toe in hives. We took her to the doctor and he suspected strep, but they were unable to get a culture, so there was no official diagnosis. He prescribed a very strong antibiotic, which we promptly picked up and gave her. Within seconds of swallowing it, she vomited violently. We didn’t know what to make of it, so we waited until her next dose was due and gave her the 2nd dose. She did the same thing. We decided the antibiotic was not the right for her and began exploring other possibilities. 

Our research led us to having allergy testing done and we discovered she was allergic to wheat and gluten. We then embarked on the gluten free journey. We fell into many of the marketing gimmicks in an effort to maintain “normalcy” for our daughter. We purchased items that simply amounted to organic junk food. We bought lots of gluten free snacks and cereals, only to later discover that the ingredients used; potato starch, tapioca flour, tapioca starch, etc., aren't very good for you. All that starch just turns to sugar in the body and isn't healthy either. 

We decided there had to be a better way and began going deeper down the rabbit hole. Our research led us to the “real foodie lifestyle”, cooking from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook and ultimately the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet. We began drinking farm fresh, non-pasteurized milk, buying grass-fed meats, and organic produce. We significantly cut down on the amount of grains we were consuming and began soaking those we did eat. My husband lost 35 pounds in just a couple months’ time. We had already stopped eating fast food several months prior, but we began to stop eating out altogether. We all had more energy, and when we cut the grains, the weight seemed to just fall off of us. Weight loss wasn’t a goal, just a byproduct. This fall we began to implement the Introduction phase of the GAPS diet. You can learn more about it here.

This isn’t so much of a diet in terms of weight loss as it is a lifestyle change with the intention of helping our bodies heal. The thought behind it is that all sickness, disease, etc. originates from a bacteria or flora imbalance in the gut. If your body can’t properly digest the food you’re giving it, the  undigested particles of food become toxic in your body and you can develop allergies, behavior issues, sickness, disease, auto immune disorders, etc. 

We have four children and two were showing some of the GAPS patient symptoms. Our daughter that was diagnosed with the wheat allergy had been born 6 weeks early with heart troubles and spent a month in the NICU. Her bill for her medications alone was $75,000. That’s a lot of drugs! We’re very thankful that she survived her ordeal with medical intervention; however we couldn’t overlook the toll it took on her body. We believe this is where her issues originated. Our fourth child also had some digestive issues, where things were coming out completely undigested. We knew something had to change. She had been exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, and continued breastfeeding until she was 21 months. Seems like she should be healthy right? Well, I had antibiotics in labor and that is where we believe her troubles originated. Her gut flora was compromised from birth. 

We decided to forge ahead with the whole family and begin the Intro diet. We were just a few weeks into it,  and what a change! My older daughter who was previously showing the beginning of ADD/ADHD symptoms was so calm and thoughtful. It was like she had done a 180 degree turn. My son who is 4, used to bounce off the walls being “all boy” but he would now sit quietly through church with a paper and crayons with no squirming or complaint. Our youngest daughter’s language began to explode, her expressions just came alive. My husband and I have collectively lost 100 pounds, and have so much more energy and just generally FEEL better. We still have a long way to go and will continue this lifestyle change, but it’s been so encouraging to see results so quickly. When people start noticing and commenting that your kids are so much better behaved, so sweet, so calm, etc. it’s very encouraging. Teachers, friends, family, babysitters, so many people have commented we can’t help but admit real results. Our kids weren’t considered “bad” before either. They were polite, respectful and kind, just very busy. I had a friend comment to me, “It’s not just the weight loss that I notice. You all LOOK healthier, you have better color, the kids seem so different, and you just seem so much more healthy.” 

The biggest proof in the pudding though, has been the fact that at the end of my first trimester with baby #5, I barely feel pregnant! With each of my previous pregnancies, I was nauseous practically from conception to week 20. With my last baby, I spent almost a whole month barely moving from the couch I was so sick. With this one, I was almost 7 weeks before I even realized I was pregnant! With each of the other kids I knew by about 4.5 weeks. I know I’m so much healthier with this pregnancy because I can feel it. We’re eating better, are more educated about nutrition and the way our body uses it, and for me what exactly a pregnant women needs for optimum pregnancy health. 

We’re looking forward to continuing this journey, learning more and watching the difference it will continue to make in our family’s life. If you want to learn more about the diet and the doctor who developed it you can click here.
To find a GAPS practitioner in your area click here.
To buy the book and begin researching for yourself click here.

~Beth Joramo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Time for Gratitude - One By One

Today I'm working on getting ready for an event that's being held at the Capitol building in Pierre, SD tomorrow. I'm busy making cookies, running errands, and finishing up last minute details so I can be ready to visit with legislators about birth and baby related topics while serving them lunch with several other families from around the state that feel the same way I do.

As I'm getting ready, I am thinking how grateful I am to live in a country where we have this kind of opportunity. I mean, what would it be like to live in a country where people just make rules and laws without any regard or opportunity for the people to voice their opinions? Yes, I am disappointed with some of the laws that there are in this state, and how money and politics play a bigger role than what would actually be good for women and families. But, how much worse would it be if we weren't even able to tell law makers what we think and educate them on issues that they have never before even thought about?

With the maternity care system in the sorry state it is in America, only by educating law makers on real evidence-based practices will we be able to make changes for the better. Not only the maternity care system, but general American culture has a very negative effect on mamas, babies, and their overall health. For instance, how do many people see breastfeeding? I have never been given any "guff" for breastfeeding my kids, but many, many people have in this country. Women get asked to leave all the time if they are feeding their baby in public. Last month, in fact, there was a nationwide "nurse-in" at Target stores to protest a Target employee asking a nursing mother to leave where she was in a Houston, TX area Target store...simply because she was giving her baby exactly what he needed. He was hungry, and she was choosing to feed him in the way we were designed to feed our babies. We need to take a positive stand, and hopefully, conversation-by-conversation, person-by-person, one-by-one, we can change this kind of thinking here.

It's not only maternity care and breastfeeding culture and laws that need to be addressed, though. On a national level, there is an uproar right now about PIPA (Protect IP Act) in the Senate and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the House. If you don't know about these two bills, Google them. Seriously. I was surprised what I found when researching a little more about what they are and what they will do if passed.

The thing is, is that we have the *right* to tell our elected officials what we think of issues all across the board. Not only that, but as informed citizens, it is our *responsibility* to make our voices heard! It is part of what makes America so great. We don't have one person dictating their whimsical wishes onto the rest of us. We actually have a say in what happens - that's the whole point of our Republic! We elect representatives that we think will represent us accurately. If they don't, then we have the opportunity every election to fire them.

Whether or not legislators vote in the way you want them to, you can and *should* make your voices heard. You can call them. You can send them a hand-written note. You can attend a town-hall meeting. You can go to Pierre or Washington DC or your state's Capital and talk to them one-on-one. You can send them an email. You can send them a typed letter. Whatever way it's done, I am SO grateful that we can make our voices heard.

Tomorrow I'm going to make mine heard.

~Evie DeWitt

Monday, January 16, 2012

Childbirth Professional Day - Meet Debbie Hayden-Miller

1. What is your Childbirth Profession?
I am a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

2. Describe your profession and why someone would want to choose your profession for support in pregnancy and/or childbirth.

As a midwife, I am lucky to share the birth experience with each family. Midwives have served women for thousands of years. Midwives provide a more personalized approach for care during pregnancy and childbirth. Prenatal appointments with a midwife usually are from 30-60 minutes allowing adequate time for education and questions. During childbirth, the midwife may perform many duties from maternal and fetal assessment, and support for the laboring mom. During the initial postpartum period the midwife encourages uninterrupted bonding for the family, provides assistance with breastfeeding, and assesses mom and baby.

3. Why did you get started in your profession?

I fell in love with childbirth with my first pregnancy. After taking childbirth classes while pregnant, I enjoyed them so much I taught classes for the next 5 years. At that time, I decided I wanted to do more so went back to college for my RN. I always planned to go to school for midwifery but put my education aside while I raised my family. When the last of my children became teenagers, I returned to school for my Master’s degree in midwifery. It was a long journey, but oh, so worth it!
4. In detail, what is your personal childbirth philosophy?

Childbirth is
~an intimate, magical, spiritual moment in a woman’s life.
Childbirth is
~and should be treated as a natural normal event in a woman’s life, not an illness
Childbirth is
~a sacred celebration of new life and should be protected from unnecessary interference.

All women should have the option to birth in a comfortable, secure and supported setting.
All women should have the option to homebirth

5. If you could tell all pregnant women in the world something, what would it be?

Having a child will change your world. It is a time in your life you will never forget. Each pregnancy will be differently important. Take care of yourself while you are pregnant, you have a precious little bundle cargo growing inside of you, and what you do affects you baby.

6. How long have you been in your profession? Are you certified? If yes, by who?

I have been a certified nurse midwife for 14 months. I am certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

7. Do you have a business name? How can people contact you for pregnancy and childbirth support?

My business name is Laughing Waters Homebirth Midwifery. I can be contacted many ways.
Web page:
Email directly from the web page or email me at
Phone number is 605-351-8041
You many also find me on Facebook and Twitter

8. Where do you practice?

I am located in Sioux Falls. Currently all care will be done in your home. Your baby will be born at home, you can select a water birth if you desire. I plan to travel no more than 2 hours away from Sioux Falls. I am also considering licensing in Iowa and Minnesota. As my business grows I plan to have an office, at that time prenatal care and well woman care will occur at the office.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Convince Her

The advantages of breastfeeding are numerous!  I just got done reading an article on 101 Reasons to Breastfeed by Leslie Burby.  It still amazes me how something so simple can have such an impact on the mother, child, father, environment and society.  Every year more research comes out supporting why breastmilk is best.   Unfortunately, initiation rates for breastfeeding hover around 75% in the United States.  If you were to try to convince a mom that was on the fence between choosing breast milk or formula, what would your favorite advantage(s) be to convince her?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!!
You can also share them at our meeting on Thursday at 6:30 pm at Elegant Mommy in Sioux Falls.  Please help spread the word that Elegant Mommy has moved to a different location.  They are now behind the Hyvee on Minnesota.  I hope to see many of you there and bring a friend!!
~Sarah Alberts, La Leche League of Sioux Falls

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New You...

...that's what everyone says right? Well, believe it or not, I truly mean it. One of my best friends is very natural, holistic, and "crunchy" as some people call it. Sure, I’ve always supported going green, breastfeeding, and babywearing; however, I realized the things I truly support I wasn't necessarily living out.

While I liked to think I'd been doing good with my diet I recently realized I am CLUELESS when it comes to some things. I honestly didn’t even know we had a co-op, what it was or where it was.

The thing about me is I'm NOT afraid to ask questions. I started researching some things and realized the lifestyle and "diet" I was doing was not at all making me healthier, in fact I was ruining my body. Sure, I lost some weight, but I also lost some muscle and valuable nutrients. I can't say I'm going to go all organic, I don’t think that would be realistic, but I can tell you I'm going to make a valid effort to include more vegetables, whole grains, organic foods, etc.

I also learned from some of my research that what you eat is what you are. If you are eating junk, you feel like junk. All the chemicals, refined sugars, etc can truly play into mood. It's no wonder my kids are always crazy! In this New Year I'm going to try and make a huge effort to get my kids eating more fresh fruit and veggies. I honestly thought I was feeding them well with the canned stuff. Oops. Not all vegetables are created equal...lesson learned.

I also plan to incorporate much more exercise into our lives. I’ve always said I wanted to be an "outdoors" person but in reality I have been spending most of my time in the house on my butt. I realized I haven't really been "living." I don't want my kids to look back at the times we had and remember the good movies we watched - I want them to remember all the walks we went on, the play time at the park, the basketball games, etc.

I've also started researching supplements to improve the immune system. It seems someone is always sick around here and I'm going to do what I can to improve that! As some may know my oldest son has a chronic condition requiring frequent surgery and some research indicates the better his immune system, the better the chance of remission - obvious decision to be made there! While I may never be as good at a natural lifestyle as some, I hope I can continue learning and making gradual changes to improve my family’s quality of life. I'm glad I have such a good support system to teach me. As I've learned so far, knowledge is power!

~Melissa Churchill

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

Ok, so it's been awhile since I've posted anything due to Christmas and New Years and all kinds of family things going on. What a wonderful holiday season! Vienna said to me (numerous times) "Mommy, this is the best Christmas ever!" I pray you all had your best Christmas ever too!

Now that we are actually in to the new year (2012 - WHOA!), we are in a time that many people see as a new beginning of sorts. It's like a fresh start to live the way you have been wanting to live - or at least try - ha!. I have never been a really good "resolution keeper" - if I even take the time to think of a resolution, it usually is out the window by mid-February. This year I think I'm going to try it out, though. Instead of setting a resolution like I have so many times in the past (the usual: eat healthier, loose 20 lbs, exercise every day, etc) I'm going to take a different approach.

My resolution is to write down my goals - both short term and long term. This will be an ongoing and ever-changing list, but I'm going to start out with ten short term goals and ten long term goals. These goals will range from gaining my childbirth educator certification to being more attentive to my kids to taking a mission trip someday to reading the entire Bible.

This year I want to begin a new start to how I approach things...I want to be more organized, and in turn be a better mother to my children and a better wife to my husband. I believe that by writing things down and posting these goals in a place where I can see them every day, they won't get "lost" in the daily shuffle of life and I won't forget about them.

I also will have some goals regarding this blog and helping you all in the best possible way I can. I want to bring you the most up to date and relevant information regarding everything from pregnancy to childbirth to cloth diapering to nursing to just being the best mommy you can be!

So, with that, I hope that you, too, have some resolutions that you can keep and that will better your life! I hope that this year I can help make your life a little bit easier in some way. Feel free to send me an email with any topic you are really interested in ( and would more information on. Also, let us know what your resolution or goals are for this sharing, I believe we can help inspire others!

With that, here's to a happy, healthy, and blessed 2012! **cheers**

~Evie DeWitt