Home

Thursday, May 27, 2010

To the mountains!



We're off to Virginia tomorrow afternoon for a weekend with family in Shenandoah National Park. I'm sure I'll have a myriad of posts Monday onward regarding our travels.

In any case, we are driving southbound in the Memorial Day traffic mayhem, and what I''m worried about more than traffic is how our Goober is going to handle a six hour roadtrip.

We've got books, we've got toys, we've got music, and we've got our good looks (snicker), but regardless, we're heading up, up, up in elevation. Even an amused baby boy can have a hard time adjusting to the ear-popping changes.

One way to help with changing elevation? Nurse or feed your baby as you rise. Nursing works in air travel, but obviously, that's not safe or legal in a car. If in a car, you can use a bottle. The suction should help level things out for the baby.

I'm packing a bottle with us for the trip to the mountains. I'll let you know if we need it and/or if it works in soothing Gabriel during the transition!

Bon Voyage to our little family. I'll be back Monday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bitten.

I've been bitten.

Sure, it had happened once or twice before, but he is doing it much more frequently, and since both Gabriel's bottom and top front teeth are now in, the biting at the breast is a whole new level of painful. In all seriousness, his top front teeth are some of the sharpest little front teeth I have ever seen. Yowzers.

Oh woe is me? Yup, I think I'll wallow a bit. I've been trying some of the "dealing with baby biting" tips on kellymom as well as hints I've been given by some helpful Moms on twitter (thank you!!), but as of yet, nothing is deterring my little Goober (... or shall we refer to him as Jaws this evening?).

It's not like breastfeeding has always been easy for me-- our first week of latching was rough, as was an entire month of feeding every two hours due to a sleepy, jaundiced baby-- but things ironed out beautifully. My supply stayed up as I began working part-time in March, and it's been a great ride.

And after seven months of almost-bliss, we're in a rough patch. Because it hurts like hell when he bites me, and I scream, yelp, and/or cry when it happens. It has happened about five times at least today, and each time I said, "No," broke suction, and stopped nursing him. To this I got smiles and babbling. I tried handing him something to teeth on and said, "It hurts when you bite Mommy. You can bite your teether." To this I got smiles and babbling. Oh, and the last time I yelped so loudly in pain it simply resulted in him crying hysterically because it scared him half to death.

So nothing has worked for us just yet. But we're trying. I just hope something starts to work soon because I'm sore and somewhat teary about the whole issue. Frankly, I used to dread pumping at work because I missed my baby, and today, for the first time, I felt relief I was pumping instead of nursing. And that made me feel awful inside. So, come on Gabriel, figure out the messages Mommy is giving you and please, stop biting me! I do not want to start pumping for your every feeding, and I honestly don't think that would work for us.

Now, I have to go work on packing for our trip to Shenandoah National Park this weekend, as well as, hmmm, put more lanolin on myself. Please share some strategies that have worked for you on stopping the biting!

This is my baby.






This is my baby on blueberries.



Any questions?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jam Berry, Blam Berry, I'm Making Baby Berry...

I would start off writing a bit about my almost terrifying love for berries, but that is honestly a post of its own so I will just get straight to the blueberries at hand. And they aren't for me. They're for Gabriel.

Before I get to the good stuff, I just want to note that the blanket statement "Your baby cannot have berries" until the age of one is not totally true. While doctors recommend for babies not to consume strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries prior to age one, many studies show that blueberries and cranberries are low allergen foods that babies could consume prior to age one. Read more about this here and here. And always ask your doc if you have questions, concerns, or doubts about your baby's readiness for berries.

Remember, you can store baby food in the freezer for just over three months with no worries. That means that you can make and freeze your fresh, in season food for baby even before baby would be ready to consume it. Make it when it is best, and serve it when it is best for baby.

I've already explained your basic fruit/veggie puree for baby, but when you make a fruit or veggie with skins (such as green beans, peas, or blueberries), you have to take extra care to break down the food and extricate the skins from the puree. Otherwise, they can deceivingly sneak into your little one's mouth and lead to choking. So I figured I would make some blueberries and share the journey with you all.

Blueberries for my Blueberry

1. Get yourself blueberries. You need a bit to make an ice cube tray full of berries. They tend to liquify and cook down even before they get strained so about 24 oz. of frozen will get you your 16 oz. in the ice cube tray. I went with organic frozen because the organic fresh would have cost us more than I was willing to pay. These bags, I am almost sure, were less than $2 each.





2. Steam your berries with the standard baby food arrangement of water, steamer basket, food.


















3. Steam until warm, tender, and juicy.Add Image



















4. Then, blend! I always use an oven mitt and/or kitchen towel to cover the blender with my hand while I blend hot things because I had a not-so-fun experience making butternut squash soup a few years ago.




5. Once blended, pull out that strainer (fine metal) to get those skins out of there.



















6. When you are done straining, you should have a sort of lumpy blueberry goo in your strainer.










7. Pour the non-goo into your ice cube tray, freeze, and package as you see fit! Get ready for baby to try.







Enjoy!


Fun in the Sun

Actually, fun in the sun isn't the easiest thing for a child's skin.



With the ever-looming information on climate change and the lifelong effects of sunburn in a Mommy's mind, it can be hard figuring out just what to use to keep your child safe from sunrays.



Luckily, the Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of recommended sunscreens that are not only baby and kid-friendly, but also eco-friendly. And we all know that combo makes me happy. The secret to effective, green 'screen? Ingredients like zinc or titanium.



Top choices on the EWG list?

Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, SPF 30, Unscented.

California Baby Sunblock Stick, No Fragrance, SPF 30+.

I am yet to try these products so I cannot speak to their effectiveness just yet.
As always, consult your doctor when choosing sunscreen for your baby, especially if your bundle is under six months of age.



Other important considerations when it comes to le bebe et la sole?

(Please excuse my French.)



Hats are your friend. My little man is a fair-skinned, copper-headed hair babe, and I know my genes are not burn-friendly. I can only imagine the repercussions of leaving his head exposed outdoors.



Sleeves do not always equal sweat. Actually, sleeves on a shirt can keep heat off of your child's skin. And what better blocks the sunburn than an actual clothing barrier? Obviously, your little ones won't be sporting turtlenecks in 90 degree weather, but consider light layers when possible.



Be shady. Take some time for shade-friendly activities under the trees like blowing bubbles, reading a book, playing charades, or dancing. If you are using a baby pool for a child under two, try to place it in a shady spot of your yard.




P.S. Gabe is now obsessed with grass.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2010 Scholastic Parent Blogger Awards: Vote for A Mom Writing!


A Mom Writing, THIS very green parenting blog, has been selected by Scholastic's editors as a finalist in the 2010 Scholastic Parent Blogger Awards green category. The winner of each category will be featured in the August issue of Parent & Child magazine (7 million+ readers), and the overall favorite parenting blogger will be a new guest blogger for Scholastic.

VOTE for A Mom Writing on Scholastic's website from May 24-June 4, 2010 here. Spread the word!

This is an amazing opportunity for me as an up and coming green journalist and Mom. I am grateful, humbled, and ecstatic to be considered among this very talented group of parent bloggers. I know that without such amazing readers this type of exposure and excitement would not be possible. I truly appreciate your time and support.

Thank You

A Mom Writing readers

and

Scholastic Editors!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'm making a hair appointment.

It's pretty much summertime, right? And seeing as I haven't had a trip to a salon since early in my second trimester, and my almost-seventh-month-old baby has taken to literally pulling my hair out (it's no fault of his really-- my long locks are everywhere even in a ponytail at this point), it's time. For new hair.

I'd love to say that the above is the actual impetus for making this hair appointment, but it's not. I'm going to make a hair appointment for an entirely different reason:

The BP Oil Disaster.

At this point, most people know about the devastating amount of oil spewing into the ocean toward the coast of the southeastern United States, and most people are aware of how terribly long the clean-up process will be. It's hard for any authority or specialist to truly assess the damage or quantity of materials needed to rectify or protect the coast right now because the oil "spill" is still going. You can watch it live here.

What does my hair cut have to do with the oil spill?
You can use hair to help contain and collect oil! I never knew this until one of my sisters mentioned it to me, and wow, how cool it was to discover just how this process happens. And I have to say, when disaster strikes, you can sometimes feel so small. Doing something little like donating some or a lot of hair to help can be quite empowering. (That feeling of empowerment is a big part of why I donated milk for Haiti, too.) With summer hair cuts on the horizon, I think this would be a great way to do good as a family, too-- a totally teachable green effort moment for kids and parents alike.


Matters of Trust

I went the old-fashioned way and googled "oil spill hair," and my search results brought me to Matters of Trust, an organization dedicated to reallocating unneeded resources from businesses, individuals, etc., for creative reuse. Matters of Trust runs a specific program dedicated to collecting human and animal hair to create hair mats and booms to collect oil. Oil spills are not a new problem, and statistics show that millions of gallons of oil spill ever year-- in other words, donating my hair to help collect oil is something I could have already been doing, and it is something I can continue to do in the future.

Here is a Matters of Trust video illustrating how the hair gathers oil...



Amazing, right? It makes sense-- our hair is heavily able to carry oil; we shampoo our hair for this very reason. So why not send off that shampooed, oil-ready hair to help out right now? You can help protect wildlife, rectify a disaster, assist the fragile Louisiana economy, etc. etc.

Here are the directions on how to collect your hair for Matters of Trust:

1. You have to register with Matters of Trust and mark that you are interested in participating in their hair mats for oil program. Do this here.

2. Matters of Trust will e-mail you information on the process and the address to ship your hair. Follow your e-mailed directions! (I am currently waiting on mine.)

3. Collect your hair.

- Line the box with a plastic garbage bag so hair (and fur, fleece, feathers) can't slip out

- Ideally, donate shampooed hair, but it doesn't have to be. Just don't include filthy hair / fur that has stuff stuck to it.

- Any length is fine. (I think I might snip a tiny piece of my baby's hair just so I can tell him later he sent his hair to the oil spill. I think that would be cool.)

- Every type of hair is fine (straight, curly, all colors, dyed, permed, straightened...) but only HEAD hair, please! Yes, dread locks are okay to send - although we find they have fungus inside when cut open - so please separate in their own bag and mark "DREADS". They are handled separately. :)

- Sweep in all clippings, JUST HAIR, but please NO OTHER GARBAGE (gum, metal clips, paper cups, wrappers...)

- Remember volunteers (sometimes young students) have to stuff this hair into booms and don't want to feel garbage or anything sharp

- Tie the top of the bag and tape the box shut

- We also accept washed, used (even with runs) nylon stocking donations in a separate bag, please.

- We also accept fur and other "natural fibers" waste wool, alpaca fleece, horse hair, feathers... again, please, no other garbage or contaminants in with the hair/fur/ fleece fibers... (a handful total per bag of hay and seeds are ok, but no garbage and, of course, absolutely no poo!) Thanks!

- Mark the boxes DEBRIS FREE HAIR (FUR, FLEECE, FEATHERS) and / or NYLONS

- Mail boxes in to the address(es) we provide you by email AFTER you sign up (free and fast).


And that's all, folks! As always, I'll keep you posted on the process.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Stash Family Photo



Faves
Bumgenius 3.0 One Size Pocket
Go-to for overnight, poop always stays in, good fit.
Downside? bg velcro wears quickly

Happy Heiny's One Size Pocket Aplix Closure
Great fit on chubby thighs.

Thirsties Duo Wrap
Great fit, never leaks, lovely colors and prints.

Prefolds

Quick, easy, cheap, and absorbent.

Least Fave
Kissaluvs Contours (Not Pictured)
While nice for when baby goes coverless with diaper rash, these just soak through very quickly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Zen and the Art of Homemade Green Beans

My husband had a grad class tonight, and I was in the mood for green beans so I decided to take a Mommy-Baby food adventure and cook up some organic greenies for Gabe and myself.

Sidenote: A bag of organic green beans at Trader Joe's is about $1.29 max.

I just made a small amount-- enough for a Mommy serving and four "baby's first" servings. But I will never waste my time making a small batch of baby green beans again. Because of the skins on green beans, you have to push the blended beans through a mesh strainer. It was pretty time-consuming-- next time, I'm doing a big batch and knocking out the mess in one shot.

I was a little daring (for some, not for others) this evening, though. Gabe was HATING his pureed green beans-- spitting them out and crying horribly-- so I thought to myself as I eyed my plate, "What would he think of my green beans?"

I sliced a bean in half, used my knife to swipe out the beans (choking hazards) within, and handed him some real cooked string beans.

Instantly the crying ends--Instantly he starts grabbing beans. Yum. Yum. Yum.

What struck me here was that after nomming and sucking on his green beans as I ate mine, he then gobbled down his ounce of green beans and an ounce of apples with a grin on his face. I wonder if finger-fooding it up allowed him to explore the taste before the puree overpowered his mouth? Maybe he liked having some control (alla baby led solids which I will definitely be writing more on later)? Whatever it was, it changed the entire mood of dinnertime, and it was awesome.

**I will note that finger foods are not generally recommended until about 8 months of age or when baby has mastered the pincer (pointer finger - thumb) grasp. Gabe is pretty close to having the pincer down, and he has all four of his front teeth now. He creepishly crawls and he's figuring out how to cruise. He is developing quickly, and it just feels right to let him carefully explore some finger foods at almost seven months. I think it's important to listen to your baby and medical recommendations when it comes to food timing guidelines, and letting G try real green beans was my choice for him today. Please don't think I'm pushing early finger foods across the board.**

Postpartum Depression: Not Just a Girl Thing

Or so says a new study about postpartum depression.

Basically, this study (by psychiatrists Gregory Simon and James Paulson of Eastern Virginia Medical School) supports a multi-dimensional postpartum depression. It argues PPD can be caused not only by hormones, but also situational issues such as sleep deprivation, financial pressure, separation anxiety, and so on. So?

Well, if PPD isn't only due to crashing and raging post-pregnancy hormones, but the pressure of new baby life, it naturally follows that PPD can hit Mommy-- and Daddy.

What's important here isn't only the science. The NPR article linked above highlights a major issue regarding men and depression: Many more American men than women suffering depression will never admit to their struggle.

If you or someone you know is a new Daddy and could be suffering from post-partum depression, seek support. Don't be ashamed and don't be silent. You'll be an even better Daddy for seeking help.

Read about one Dad's struggle here.
Seek online support here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Camp Baby.




It's really funny how very different the reactions were from coworkers this morning when I told them my family went camping this past weekend. I add in the "with the baby" phrase and the results varied even more so. But no matter how strange, wonderful, exciting, or insane you think it is to head out to the mountains with a six-month-old, you can't really know what it's like until you do it.

And for us, it was actually a decent experience. My only regret (other than forgetting our pillows) is that we stayed one night. When you haul all your baby gear off to the woods and you bop baby back and forth between yourself and husband to get your tent set up like a little family palace, it is quite a shame to tear it all down within twenty-four hours. It was sort of interesting to pump in the car on a Sunday morning, too...

Baby-specific camping issues?

Buggin' Out.

You need to keep the bugs away as best you can because it just isn't fair to let your baby get bitten over and over and over. A great option? Eco-friendly herbal bug spray for kiddies (6 months+). We picked up Herbal Armour Kids (basically you turn your kid into a citronella candle). I used it, Gabe used it, and my husband used it. I think we made it out bite free despite the unusually large spring bug population at the campground. Other herbal options are available from Burt's Bees (I originally went out looking for this item last week, but couldn't find it on a shelf anywhere.)



Tent Life

You don't need a tall tent to camp with a baby, but it made it so much easier for us that we used a tent with a six-foot apex. Why? My husband could stand up and lift Gabriel out of the Pack and Play. And yeah, the Pack and Play fitting in the tent was a plus. Obviously this tent is not backpacking-friendly, but we figured having a family tent separate from our good backpacking gear made sense. It was almost like having our own little hotel room sans heat . . .

Not Hot Mama.

When Gabriel was born, the nurses told me the best way to gauge whether a baby is warm enough is to check the temp of his or her nose. Well, Gabe was in a onesie, sleeper, sleeper bag with arms, sleep sack, and swaddled, but his little cheeks, nose, and head were FROZEN cold after just about an hour asleep in his Pack and Play on Saturday night. But there is one thing that keeps baby warm, and that's me. So my husband gave up his REI thermal sleeping pad for Gabriel, we situated Gabe in the crook of my arm nursing, and we pulled a blanket over me and baby instead of me sleeping entirely in my super duper warm sleeping bag snug as a bug. So baby was warm. My husband was warm (though uncomfortable since he lost his pad and wound up on crunchy Rocksylvania ground). I.was.very.cold. We're planning on our next camping trip for an evening with an overnight low above 50 degrees Fahrenheit!


Trail Travel

There's something so relaxing and natural about exploring with your child. If you are hiking parents, I highly suggest purchasing an all terrain jogging stroller with three wheels. It makes hitting the trail that much easier. Our stroller is a Jeep, and its real tires and shock absorbers kick butt on uneven, rocky ground (though Gabe was not up for a long bumpy ride just yet).


Helpful tips for camping with baby?

Wear a headlamp.
At night, you can see and be hands free! It makes diaper-changing much easier in the dark. Just be careful not to shine the light in baby's eyes.

Use disposable wipes.
Everyone is a little dirtier while camping. Using some disposable wipes is worth it for your baby and your own cleanliness. Of course, keep with Leave No Trace rules and pack out everything you pack in-- no littering, no leaving behind the mess.

Enjoy breastfeeding.
Seriously, is there anything easier than not cleaning bottles? I love weekends because I am with my family, but I also love them because I (or my husband) don't have to clean bottles after work. While camping, it was doubly wonderful not to fuss over that.



All things considered, camping with Gabriel was a huge success, and we will definitely be doing it again. Yes, we used cloth diapers with ease while camping, too.


Oh, and Goober wasn't the only baby in the woods last weekend...



P.S. Here's a dirty secret. Against all likeliness, I am possibly Gossip Girl's biggest fan. Anyone else watch? The season three finale might have just ruined my life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Much Ado About Public Nursing.

If you didn't already hear, ABC's series What Would You Do? is airing an episode tonight that tackles the public's reaction to breastfeeding in public. The show sets up a scenario in a Brooklyn cafe -- a Mom comes in, purchases some things, and sits down to nurse her baby. The (actor) cafe manager begins to harass her, and there are a varied stack of reactions from witnesses to the harassment.

During a discussion of the show on The View today, Elisabeth Hasselbeck mentioned how great Hooter Hiders and the like are for nursing in public.

Yes, they do make ones that cover me up (and I am well-endowed), but I get so frustrated because when my baby wants to eat, he does not want to have cloth over his head. I find I spend more time wrestling his squirmy little arms from lifting the cover and exposing me than actually concentrating on feeding him.

I only use the cover because of my own bodily insecurities-- my breasts are big so I have to lift my shirts up rather than pull them down (I'd stretch my shirts out otherwise), and the stretch marks on my stomach from pregnancy are dreadful-- like a tiger walked up to me and carved my stomach with his claws bad (not lying!). I am not comfortable without some sort of coverage.

That being said, you have already read above that using the nursing cover with Gabe is annoying-- lately I just drape it loosely over the top of me and wrap it around to cover my stomach, leaving Gabe's head totally uncovered. I've decided if someone can see my nipple with this set up they are looking too close to act offended anyway.

And on top of all of this cover-up business, I want to be clear I support all public breastfeeding ladies no matter what coverage is there. I wish I was confident enough to go totally coverless like those who do. In most states, the law is behind you, girls! If someone harasses you, you can call the police.

Check out specific breastfeeding statutes by state here.

**And don't forget, Health Care Reform now requires workplaces of 50 employees or more to allow mothers pumping breaks in rooms with outlets other than bathrooms for at least the first year of baby's life. This reform does not downgrade any state laws that offer greater protection to nursing Moms.**

Thursday, May 13, 2010

One Small Change

I'm very pleased to share that I'm the guest blogger over at One Small Change today.

One Small Change

One Small Change is a wonderful blog (written by Suzy and Andy of Hip Mountain Mama) dedicated to exactly its title-- making those small green changes in everyday life. Each month, blog readers post their new small change and update each other on their progress through comments. One Small Change is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and share your experiences.

And today, you can read a post from me over at One Small Change on one thing in my life that inspired me and can inspire children to be green now-- experiencing National Parks.

---


The Power of Parks

Great Smoky Mountains National Park


National Parks. There are lots of them. And at a very young age I fell in love with nature because of the impression National Parks made upon my little, budding soul.

Perhaps it was not an intended small change—my parents choosing to take us on vacations immersed in America’s protected greenery—but family vacations cemented in me the importance of caring for the environment.


So maybe it’s the one thing about me that didn’t have to change that I find important to write about here. There was no magic light bulb that went off inside my brain making me love nature. That deep-rooted love made it all the easier to make small changes (cloth diapers, homemade baby food, etc. etc.).


And here is where I’m going with this…


As a parent to a (big) six-month-old baby boy, there are a multitude of things I want for my son. Very high up on that list (next to ya know, decent health?) is my desire for him to love nature the way I do. I want him to grow up understanding how crucial it is to hug those trees.


I see the clearest path to that in how we spend our family vacations. Those relaxing, altruistic family moments away from our usual routine will be golden opportunities for truly demonstrating to him that this world is worth our green efforts. I guess I am hoping those memories, picture-framed as cherished, will leave him with warm, green fuzzies.


I get excited at the thought of making plans to camp in Shenandoah or hike the Smokies, to climb sea walls in Acadia or be wary of Grizzlies in Yellowstone . My husband and I would rather do those things with our children than ride on Dumbo and listen to Belle sing (those things are fun). It’s our personal preference. And I’m convinced we would rather be out of the amusement parks because we were brought up learning about toads and Leave No Trace.


A vista along the Appalachian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

So let your love of nature and your family moments transcend a love for the earth. If you already hold the environment dear, maybe this isn’t a change you should be making—it’s time you should be making, time with your children out in nature as a family. National Parks are an amazing place to let this happen.


Let your kids explore as Junior Rangers. Attend the amphitheatre nature talks. Examine wildflowers. Discuss turkey vultures. Pick blueberries and make pancakes with them the next morning.


If you make the memories, I am willing to bet that taking care of our earth, learning about the wild, and appreciating natural beauty will, well, just come naturally to our children.


--




Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quinoa the King

Chilled Chile Corn Mango Salsa Quinoa
compliments of the guy working the Trader Joe's sample counter

(That last word is pronounced keen-wa, not quin-o-uh.)
((Oh yes I did use the latter pronunciation until about two weeks ago because I'm just that cool.))



1 c. uncooked organic red quinoa
1 ripe yellow mango, sliced and diced
1/2 jar of Trader Joe's chile corn salsa

1. Mix 1 c. uncooked o.r.q. with 2 c. water in pan. Bring to boil and cook 10-15 minutes.
Then, pour into serving dish.

2. Mix in sliced and diced mango.

3. Mix in 1/2 jar of TJ's c.c.s.
4. Chill 1-2 hours until slightly cold.

So easy and delish!




Did you know quinoa is actually related to leafy greens rather than grains? It's true, though it behaves nutritionally like a grain, but packed with protein. Quinoa is gluten free and high in calcium, too! It's an excellent sub for rice. Give it a try!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BFFP a.k.a. The Emotional Roller Coaster

That's a Big, Fat, FAKE Positive, people. This experience was my hubbadub craziness about two weeks ago.

No, my husband and I weren't trying-- I was on the mini pill, & other than my two-day spotting post beginning the mini pill in December, I have not had my period yet due to breastfeeding. Yes, that's over a year without a period (but, ya know I gave birth in there).

So when I started to feel headache-y and crampy without any return of the aforementioned period, I figured it would only be responsible to take a pregnancy test.

And it was quite the shocker to see two blue lines appear on a CVS Early Result test (the line was light, but blue-- no shadow, no evaporation line). I shook my head, squinted my eyes, widened my eyes, closed my eyes, and literally scuffled out of the bathroom with my pants around my ankles. A nervous and meek "Um? Can you...?" was all I got out of my mouth.

Of course, this sent my husband into a fit of gentle denial:
"No," (scared, disturbed face at test) "I love you," (smile, arm wrap around me) "This isn't right," (eyes widen and squint, then he smiles) "But we can do this... I hope," and he went on and on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde about the whole thing.

--Because we want two more children, but we have a six month old who is breastfed. My husband is halfway through his master's in higher ed, and once he has it, he'll be looking for career advancement that will demand time, etc. We live in a condo, not a home with a backyard.

In other words, we're headed in the right direction to have our second in the next three years, but the thought of moving again while very pregnant or with a newborn scares me. I also had preterm labor with Gabriel so we would need a game plan in case of bedrest at some point... these are things we'd like ironed out BEFORE a positive pregnancy test.
--

But at that moment, the test was positive, and through the sense of too-soon terror, we both had an air of joy about us. Every baby is a blessing, and that is our truth.

And because of that joy growing and creeping through the seeming madness, my husband and I found ourselves let down after two more tests reading negative and a blood serum test confirming we were indeed not expecting.

Needless to say, the talk of number two has emerged, though we will NOT be trying for awhile yet. I think my point in all of this is to say fake positive pregnancy tests do exist. A line is not a line is not a line. Now I'll get preachy: Take care and always follow up with your doctor if you think you could be pregnant.

...I hope you never have to ride the BFFP roller coaster, and I hope we never do again, either.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Six Words (and then some) on Why My Mom Matters

Tenderly Teaching, Selflessly Giving, Passionately Laughing.


My Mom is a brilliant woman who went to college on a full scholarship, getting a degree in Biology with a minor in Art. She willingly and lovingly chose to stay at home to raise my sisters and me (all four of us). She encouraged us to explore the world so we could find ourselves, and she loved the women we grew into along that journey. My Mom led us by her own example-- as a passionate, moral, intelligent, fair, and devoted person full of love, she has demonstrated to us how to be good in every sense of the word.

While our relationship, like most mother-daughter relationships, has not always been perfect, it has always blossomed after the rain. In my darkest moments, my Mom was the first to take a train to help me through the shadows, and I know she will always be there to hold my hand. My Mom is my role model, my parenting how-to book, my very best friend. I know nothing I could write here will do her justice, but please know, Mom-- I love you.

And I could not be more full of joy that YOU are my son's Mom-Mom. I know now more than ever that being a Mom is the hardest, most wonderful experience in the entire world. Because of you, I feel confident that I can be the Mom every child deserves-- you taught me how to tenderly teach, how to selflessly give, how to passionately laugh. These seem to be the most important ingredients to motherhood so far. I am looking forward to discovering more and more as a Mom.


Oh, and you are the one who infused a true love for this earth in me. All the cloth diapers, cloth wipes, homemade babyfood, you-name-it, is because of you. So thanks, Mom. You made me green.

Happy Mother's Day.


Love,
Me

---

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms out there. I hope you have a beautiful day.


You can read about the ONE2ONE campaign and Smith Magazine's Six Word Memoirs (this post's inspiration) here.

---

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blogger Go Neutral.

I was bopping around on some new and old favorite green blogs today when I stumbled upon this button...

co2 neutral shopping and coupons with kaufDA.de


And I thought to myself, "I would like this."

Well, I liked it even better after I read about the program in tandem with those little buttons. For every person who blogs about this carbon neutral web program, a tree is planted. Yum!

Here are the details:

"Just write a short blog post about our programme “My blog is carbon neutral” and include one of the buttons below on your site (ideally in the sidebar). Send the link to your blog to CO2-neutral@kaufda.de and we plant a tree for you, neutralising the carbon dioxide emissions of your blog. The trees will be planted in the spring of 2010 by the Arbor Day Foundation...

Just a few easy steps to make it green:

  1. Write a blog post about the initiative + insert your favourite button
  2. E-mail the link to your post to CO2-neutral@kaufda.de
  3. We plant a tree for your blog in Plumas’!

Note: We plant a tree for each domain. Please copy the html-code and paste it in your blog. Make sure the carbon-neutral button works, the html-code must not be changed. Use the carbon-neutral-white button for a white background or the carbon-neutral-transparent button for different colored backgrounds. If you need help, please contact CO2-neutral@kaufda.de. We are looking forward to planting your tree!"


So, fellow green bloggers, it seems easy enough, yes? Go ahead and plant your tree.




Thursday, May 6, 2010

Be Careful with that Carotene.

If you make your little one's baby food at home, take care with carrots.

Avoid using the water you used to steam the carrots to thin the carrots. While this is a great idea with most fruits and vegetables, carrots have high nitrate (which can be beneficial, but also poisonous to some degree) levels, and the nitrates seep into the steaming water. Instead of using the water from steaming, consider adding some breast milk, formula, or other fresh water to thin the carrots. Some Moms choose to feed baby jarred carrots instead of homemade because the packaged carrots lose more nitrates in the processing.

From what I have read, it is generally recommended NOT to feed a baby younger than 3 months old carrots. I also found that most babies should be able to handle carrots at 6 months of age.

I also know that for Gabe here, carrots may have caused him a bit of flatulence (and constipation-like symptoms -- as in he didn't go until this afternoon since Sunday night when carrots were introduced. We were about to resort to the doctor's orders for prunes, but he finally went... at the babysitter's!)

You can read some more specific information about homemade carrots for baby here and here and here.




"Hello!" from my little carrot.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wardrobe Malfunction.

FYI- This post may be too much information.

.....

Have you ever pumped and dripped milk in just the wrong place?

Such as smack dab in the middle of your periwinkle blue button up shirt? as in right in the middle of your chest (i.e. the spot of your shirt that makes you think I hope this shirt is big enough to stay shut when it gets close to pumping time)? on your break? right before a huge inservice meeting?

I HAVE! Today.

At least I washed a big spoon for the meeting's fruit salad before I walked back from break. Everyone thought it was water on my shirt, right?


Anyone else have some wardrobe malfunction stories? They don't have to be breastfeeding-related!




.....

(In other TMI news, Gabe hasn't pooped since Sunday night, and I'm scared of the diaper that breaks the spell.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Organically Grown Group Goes Baby.



Did you know that "25% of the planet's insecticides come from the production of conventional, non-organic cotton?" I didn't.

Insert Organically Grown Group, an apparel company devoted to offering 100% organic, pesticide and GMO-free cotton clothing and bedding, as well as eco-education. This Spring, they are launching a new baby line.

The first thing that went through my mind when I touched a 6-month size clothing sample was, "Oh.So.Soft."

I'm not kidding. Cotton is a soft fabric, but 100% Organic Cotton is an entirely new level of light, soft, loveliness. Having a baby with extremely sensitive skin, I was very pleased to find a product so tender on little arms and legs.

The other thing I liked about the sample (clothing pictured is different from the sample I received)? It's simple.

Many of the clothes are designed with animals on them, but the animal prints are details. There's an overall pure look to these clothes that isn't disturbed with cartoons or neon colors. These clothes scream whisper, "Wear me when baby needs to be soothed."

The price isn't obscene-- i.e. 3 bodysuits for $20. Not too bad considering they are organic, but not too cheap if you are on a tight budget.

My 12-18 month clothing-sized Gabriel doesn't fit in the wee baby clothing any longer so this clothing isn't for him (and therefore I can't speak to how these clothes hold up in the wash). But these mild-colored rompers, gowns, and bodysuits would be an excellent light and protective clothing choice for little summer babies (sizes 0-9m).

Check Organically Grown out for yourself here.

A Mom Writing did not receive monetary compensation for this entry.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Secret Life of Prefolds.


For the cloth diaper newbie, prefolds are probably what many people imagine when the word cloth diaper is spoken.

Prefolds are generally a rectangle of cotton fabric pre-folded lengthwise so that there is a thicker strip of fabric in the middle. Many CDers do use prefolds, owning either Chinese prefolds (normally bleached, supposedly more durable) or Indian prefolds (generally unbleached, more soft, and possibly more absorbent). We own and happily use both varieties, and I will say the prefold stereotypes mentioned above do hold true in our house.


Generally, my husband and I use prefolds folded in thirds, positioned in a diaper cover. This is a nice, easy option for at home. As long as your baby has not made a disturbing mess on both the diaper and cover, you can easily pull out the dirty diaper and replace it with a clean one. That means you can reuse the cover. If your baby got the cover insides a little wet, you can let the cover air dry while using a different one on your baby. I have used this method out of the house, too, and I have no real problem with it as long as I have a considerable changing area for Gabe (i.e. this is not easy in the back of a car with a squirmy munchkin).

Larger, diaper-service quality (DSQ) prefolds cost around $2.00 each, and covers range in price from $8-$17. My favorite covers are both just about $13. You can imagine how inexpensive diapering is with the cover/prefold system.

And as I said, generally, my husband and I just fold the prefold in thirds and position it inside the cover, but every once in awhile, we do the twist.


The Bikini Twist
Gabe Style
(And meet Gabe's Owl. He has no name. I figured I would wait for Gabe to name him.)



Your baby goes on top of the prefold so that the diaper will cover his bottom when wrapped around him.


Twist the prefold so that what is facing toward you faces the ground.


Pull the bottom up to your baby's belly.



Fold some fabric down to make a double layer for absorbency (The amount of fabric folded will depend on the size of your baby and the size of your prefold. Gabe is 20 pounds, and we can make a nice double layer in a premium.)


Snappi time! (Snappis are stretchy little monsters with inward facing teeth at each point. They grab the fabric and hold your fold in place in one-two-three-- without risking any injury to your baby with ye olde pins).

The fold created a little gusset to help hold the mess inside the diaper.

After folding, just add a cover!

Happy Prefold-ing!

For a stack of awesomely helpful prefold tutorials, head to the Eco-Friendly Family Blog here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"A Carrot Saved is a Carrot Earned."

Homemade Baby Food is an educated penny-pinching parent move.

When it comes to feeding your baby, homemade organics make your baby and your bank account just a little more green.

Really?

Sure. 'Green' choices are about living a healthy, socially-responsible life, but they also make a bank account a little more comfortable, too. As a young family with extreme student loan pressure, we just wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise. And, oh yeah, with Gabe being an exclusively breastfed baby, we were used to paying nothing for his food, so that whole pay-for-your-kid-to-eat thing is new.

So let's get out that calculator.

0000

Today we went shopping for Gabe's next few food adventures. Let it be known that Gabriel LOVES food shopping. He loved helping us pick the peaches (he's a fan of feeling textiles and textures), he enjoyed flirting with any and everyone, and he's currently crushing on Grocery Store Overhead Lighting.

Carrots, Bananas, and Peaches -- oh my.
And he'll be getting Whole Grain cereal (barley/spelt) sometime soon, too.


1 lb. Organic Carrots: $.99
1.05 lb. Organic Bananas: $.83
1.13 lb. Organic Peaches: $2.81

I have found that it takes just about 1 lb. of a produce item to make 1 full ice cube tray of food + 1 warm 2 oz. serving ready to serve to baby. That is approximately 18 oz. of babyfood from every pound, considering that the ice cube tray is 16 one oz. cubes. So let's do some math here.

If you make the food--


Let's look at the cheaper side of homemades-- the carrots...
For $.99, you are getting 18 oz. of food. In other words, for homemade organic carrots, you are paying less than 6 cents per ounce.

Let's look at the more expensive side of homemades-- the peaches...
For $2.81, you are getting 18 oz. of food. In other words, for homemade peaches, you are paying less than 16 cents per ounce.


If you purchased the food--

Let's look at the cheaper side of packaged-- conventional food...

Gerber 2nd Foods Carrots - 7 oz., 8 pack, 16 servings $12.99 (target.com)
-Each container is 7 oz. x 8 = 56 oz.
You are paying just over 23 cents per ounce.

Beech-Nut Stage 2 Tender Sweet Carrots, 48 oz. case $15.48 (buythecase.com)
You are paying just over 32 cents per ounce.

Let's look at the more expensive side of packaged-- organic food...

Gerber Tender Harvest Organic Carrots 2 pk Case of 8 $12.99 (diapers.com)
-Each container is 2.5 oz. of carrots. That's 5 oz. per pack x 8 packs = 40 oz.
You are paying more than 33 cents per ounce.

Earth's Best Baby Foods First Carrots 2.5 oz. (Pack of 24) $21.50 (amazon.com)
-That's 60 oz. of food.
You are paying almost 36 cents per ounce.

...and as baby eats chunkier, heartier meals, the packaged food prices just go up from there, whereas with homemades you can just mix, match, and thicken.

Whether you are spending 6 or 16 cents per ounce, you are always saving, even if you buy the least expensive bulk cases of packaged food, almost 10 cents per ounce. This might sound trivial, but if your baby eats 2 oz. of food per meal, you are saving almost 20 cents per meal.

For us, with Gabe eating 1 small bowl of cereal for breakfast and one 2 oz. bowl of homemade per day, we save $1.40 per week. When he graduates to two larger meals per day (8 oz. food/day), you save $.80 per day and $5.60 per week if you are comparing homemade organics to the cheapest packaged option. Add those weeks up, and you've got yourself a bit of green. To some, $5.60 per week may be nothing, but to our family, that is a worthy savings.

But then when you compare the homemade organics to the packaged organics, you are really saving money. For the expensive end of homemades, you spend 16 cents per ounce, whereas with the higher end packaged you spend 36 cents per ounce. That is a 20 cents per ounce difference, adding up to at least a savings of $11.20 per week. How 'bout them apples?

And with homemades, you are giving your child fresh food that YOU processed with the most important ingredient in any recipe out there, right? L-O-V-E.

oooo


So-- homemade baby food parents, the next time someone looks at you like you are a hippie-hearted, highfalutin, nose-in-the-air health food snot, just smile and say, "Actually, homemade organics are just plain cheaper," and shrug. With homemade food, you're doing your baby and your wallet good!


and please, please, please know there is no judgment here if you do feed your baby packaged or conventional food-- if your baby is happy and healthy, that is ALL that matters. -<3-

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bye Bye, Ty.


I'm guessing you have already heard about this recall, but if not, McNeil recalled a whole lotta meds (yes, please hum 'whole lotta love' - led zeppelin while reading this entry). Infant meds and all. Supposedly no medical problems were reported from the recalled Tylenol, but it had more concentrated doses of active ingredient than intended.

Oh. Now I feel better? hmmm....

My other issue with Tylenol has to do with immunizations-- i.e. The Mind Battle of Last Night
Whereas prior to our new pedi visit, I was told by docs that T is safe to pair with shots, our new pedi issued me warning about controversial studies suggesting (a) T could make shots less effective (that the low grade fever is actually contributing to a stronger immunity later) or (b) possibly contribute to autism.

I had always been wary of the latter, but actually did not know about the former. I am so relieved to have found G a doctor who doesn't just dismiss these studies. I'm not saying I believe anything 100% to be true 100% of the time, but I think there's something to be said for weighing all of the evidence.

So last night, G's temp hits 100.4 and he turns into cranky city USA. My husband and I wearily took turns walking and rocking him, ever careful of his bruised little chubby leg. And we start the give Tylenol debate. We didn't. That was the right decision for us at that moment, and within an hour or so, G was back to his usual 97.whatever temp.

And when my Mom called us at 8:30 this morning to tell us about the recall, I found myself oddly smirking (in an evil Grinch sort of way) at that infant dropper bottle.

Now I just wonder how long this war will last.