Meet a Crunchy: Charlise Lee

Hello, and welcome to Meet a Crunchy, where we interview crunchies from all over! If you’re interested in being interviewed, here are the instructions.

Mother in bun, looking at phone; sitting with son at a table at an event

1. Introduce yourself, please!

Hi!  I am Charlise (34) and I am the creator of Crunchy Family!  I have been into the natural living lifestyle for almost 15 years now.  When I became pregnant with my youngest son, I really fell down the rabbit hole with cloth diapers, reusable products, organic ingredients, etc.

My oldest is now 13, turning 14 this summer.  My husband, Brian (38), and I have added 6 more to the crew: Remy (12), Phoenix (10), Chevy (8), Charlie (almost 6!), Fionna (5), and Solara (2).  I am also a surrogate to Laken (3) and Isannah (still baking).  I might do one or two more surrogate journeys, depending on my current surro families and what they  have planned!  My husband and I have been waffling back and forth and I think we have recently decided that we JUST MIGHT add one more to our personal crew once all is said and done.  We love our huge family!

My husband is from Houston and I am from Dallas.  We are currently living in a suburb of Dallas, but we plan to move this summer to a new rental house.  Our plan is to rent for about five years and save up to build our own barndominium on some land of our own.  We are going to need lots of space for our future grandkids!

My husband just got into truck driving school, so he will be on the road a lot.  I run a laundry service and do a lot of custom sewing.  I am working on a custom underwear business, but I have had to take a little time out to work on homeschooling with my oldest this second semester.  

2. Who, or what, got you into the crunchy community?

I used to blog on a website called Open Diary and I met a huge community of moms that really got me into the crunchy community before it was the community it is today.  I am still friends with LOTS of those people today and treasure my friendship with them!

3. How do you describe your crunchy status?

I am a bit of a mix-up of crunchy and non-crunchy.  It’s really hard to be 100% and I don’t think I know anyone that is.  We practice attachment parenting which includes full-term breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping.  We are very passionate about not circumcising boys, extended rear-facing (in the car seat!) and parents’ choice about vaccinations.  I have cloth diapered every one of my kids, but none of them 100% of the time.  I have actually decided to sell all of my cloth because if we have one more, I will not be using cloth.  You wouldn’t believe how much regular laundry our family accumulates!  It’s a lot.  We recycle and try to reuse things as much as we can.  We don’t really eat a lot of organic, unless it’s on sale.  That can be really pricey with a big family.  We do the best we can, which is most important!  

4. How has your experience with the crunchy lifestyle affected your life?

Being crunchy can definitely make people see me in a negative light.  If I give suggestions about things, I get the “you’re a know-it-all” response, which is hurtful when I am just trying to help someone.  Being the mom of so many, I have done a lot of the trial and error and I know how stressful parenting can be when you’re struggling with something.  I wish I had had someone there to tell me how to do things differently and maybe I wouldn’t have made some of the parenting mistakes that I did make.  

On a positive note, my crunchy lifestyle has really taught me how to be a more loving, caring, open-minded, patient mother.  I was an only child brought up in a very religious family, so I have pretty much taken the exact opposite route with my own family and it has been absolutely wonderful.

5. How have your family and friends reacted to your crunchiness?

I definitely converted my cousin, Liz into crunchydom.  She is a big advocate of RUMPs now and it’s pretty awesome that some of my crunchy ways have rubbed off onto her.  I have had some push-back with some family members in regards to some things which I regard as safety/health issues (anti-circ and extended rear-facing), rather than parenting methods.  That is really hard when you are just concerned about keeping the little ones who can’t speak for themselves safe.  It can be difficult when people criticize you for doing something different or away from the mainstream.

6. What crunchy products are you loving right now?

Baby Wash – Mustela Cleansing Gel – This is my absolute FAVORITE baby wash/shampoo.  It smells like honeysuckle and is very gentle on baby’s skin.  I usually buy it at Target and stock up when it’s on sale!

Beauty products – Perfectly Posh – I normally LOATHE MLMs, but my friend got me sucked into trying Posh and I am OBSESSED.  I use the BFF face wash religiously.  Their hand creams are delicious without being greasy or too watery.  They also have a lip balm that has been retired and I am hoping they have something new to replace it soon.  I have a big stash of them just in case!  I literally only signed up to get the product discount, but if you are looking for something new, I am happy to give recommendations on products.  

Baby carriers – I am often asked what is my favorite brand of carrier, and mine is the Boba soft-structured carrier.  I have about 6 of them.  I really do love wraps, but my daughter is SUCH a seat-popper.  It’s so much easier to just pop her into the Boba and go.

Solara in a carrier on Charlise's back

Cleaning supplies – I really like to make my own cleaning products, but if you are looking for a good stain stick, check out Buncha Farmers.  This sucker will clean just about anything!  You can even grate it into a spray bottle of hot water for a stain removing spray!  I usually buy mine through a co-op group on Facebook called A Touch of Love!

7. How do you feel about this lifestyle overall? Anything else you want to share?

I really feel like people try to compare themselves with others when starting their crunchy journey.  There is really no right or wrong way.  It’s not a competition to be the “Most Crunchy”.  You can do some things that work for your family and ignore the ones that just don’t work for you.  The point is to just bring more love, light and nature into your life.  If you are happy with what you are doing, you are doing it right!

#1 tip to going crunchy

Be proud to be different.  Everyone’s journey is unique.