Monday, March 31, 2014

Postpartum Care with MamaCloth Boutique + Giveaway!

I'm going to talk about a somewhat TMI topic with you all today - post partum bleeding care.

Here's a little back story. I've been a cloth diapering mama for about 2 years now (wooop wooop!), but for most of that time I've been "Aunt Flo Free." Breastfeeding does that to ya! I was blessed to be period free for the 9 months of pregnancy with Penny and through about 13 - 14 months post partum. Then I had a couple cycles and was pregnant again! I knew I was interested in reusable cloth pads but my cycle came back for such a short window of time that I barely got any research done.

Switching to cloth pads was sort of a no brainer to me, I was well aware of the reasons to cloth diaper and a lot of the same health reasons apply to disposable menstrual products. But a lot like cloth diapers, jumping into the reusable cloth pad world was daunting to me! What kind of pad do I want/need? How many? Plus, if I am to expect the same situation with my cycle to happen with Ruby as it did with Penny it will probably be well over a year before my cycle returns again. However, there is the case for post partum bleeding.


I got in touch with the Mama Cloth lady - aka, Meg, the owner of Mamacloth.ca. She gave me the run down on why you want to switch to reusable cloth pads (affectionately called "mama cloth" all across the board) and we worked out a package of what I could expect to use for my post partum bleeding. She also threw in 3 pairs of of pretty coordinating nursing pads. What a doll!



1 "All in one" organic bamboo velour, 2 layer hemp cotton fleece with PUL fabric (in hot pink / damask)
1 "Pocket" pad with several inserts (floral print)
PUL pad wrapper (damask)
3 pairs of nursing pads
As it turns out, mama cloth is kind of similar to cloth diapers if you're already familiar with it. The "All in one" style is just like an AIO diaper - no inserts required, it's all good to go just like you'd expect a disposable pad to be. The "pocket" style pad is just like a pocket diaper - add however many inserts you need based on your flow. It all looks pretty easy to me! Washing cloth menstrual pads is also very similar to cloth diapers; I rinse them prior to putting them in a wetbag that hangs on the door handle in our bathroom. Then we throw them in with the cloth diaper wash since we've been on wash overload with a newborn and toddler in cloth too!

You've got to be wondering how exactly these hold up with the super heavy, crazy flow that happens after birth. In my case I had a unique tear and coming into contact with anything was excruciating! Thankfully Mamacloth's AIO pad features an organic bamboo velour top that is what your skin comes in contact with. Seriously a life saver!!! I would trade all the underwear in the entire world to have this material be my underwear! It was so soft and truly absorbent. This is an important luxury to have when your lady parts are healing after birth; whether you had tearing, stitches or no damage at all. 




The pocket style mama cloth pad was really nice because as I mentioned before, you can customize how many inserts you need based on your flow.




A new mama can never have enough nursing pads either, so I loved trying out Mama Cloth's version of nursing pads. These come with two layers of so-soft fleece and an inner layer of absorbent cotton fleece. I never leaked a whole bunch during let down while I nursed Penny but this time my milk production is in crazy overdrive. These pads have done well with getting me through the night and their cute prints are a plus! :)


As you can see, MamaCloth.Ca is not just all about your period, it's all about reusable cloth products for the home. So in addition to menstrual products, she's got cloth/family wipes, wet bags and un-paper towels

So make your period a happy one - am I kind of a geek for getting really excited about these beautiful prints that she has for her products? Periods are rarely roses and unicorns but it does help a little to have these pretty pads to look at, right?

Here's your chance to win a $30 gift certificate to Mamacloth.ca! You can use it to buy anything in her shop - doesn't have to be just cloth pads!  Be sure to follow Mamacloth.ca on facebook and twitter to get the scoop on any new prints or deals that she's running!


This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who entered!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review, all opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ruby's Birth Story

My wait for Ruby began around the tail end of the 38 week mark. I had Penny at exactly 39 weeks and was fairly positive that Ruby would come at the same time too.

I had been having contractions in the evenings for several weeks but nothing like the real thing. My midwife had started to check me at 37 weeks, when I started at about 2cm and stayed fairly constant over the next several weeks. Days passed, and I reached my "estimated due date" (March 4th). No baby yet. I began to despair.

That week I decided to get swept, which kick started some things into action but ultimately I wasn't going anywhere. We had several nights where I would have some consistent contractions but they'd peter off in several hours. We invited my parents up for the weekend so that they were already here as we planned for them to watch Penny when we checked into the birth center. That Saturday we went to our local pool (which has an awesome kids water park) and my 6 year old niece dragged me around the pool ("c'mon Auntie - let's go down the lazy river!!") and kept me very active. That night I started another round of good contractions - lasting a minute to a minute and a half and 4-7 minutes apart. We got excited, thinking that tonight may be the night! But alas, morning came and a very grumpy Bianca emerged from the bedroom for breakfast with the family. False labor - you are a cruel bitch.

So it was Sunday, March 9th. I was 40 weeks and 6 days. My parents were going to leave in the afternoon. I began to get anxious because I knew that as soon as they'd leave I'd go into labor and they'd have to turn right back around. Adam and my stepdad took a quick trip to work on a school project together and were gone for a couple hours, during that time my mom and I sat and chatted while I tried to keep my mind off my gloom. Around 1:00 a round of contractions started - this caught my attention. My contractions always started after dinner; very rarely did I ever feel anything before 5:00. I kept this to myself but eventually my mom noticed that my attention was elsewhere and she asked if I was having contractions. The guys came home around 2:30 with lunch (at my request: spicy Thai food) and at the table I continued to have contractions and I was getting on edge. We timed them - 1 minute long, 4 minutes apart. Adam decided to call the midwife to see what she thought. Darlene thought it still might be early but agreed to meet us at the birth center around 4:15 to see where I was at. So at 3:45 Adam and I kissed our sweet Penny goodbye and took off in hopes that I'd be bringing home a baby shortly.

My birthing room was prepared when we arrived and Adam turned on a good Pandora station that he knew I'd like. My midwife checked me out - 4cm, not fully effaced. But these contractions were real. She gave us three options - go home for a few hours, go for a walk, or break the waters. I definitely didn't want to go home because I was afraid that the contractions would stop and that it would mean bringing Penny back into the situation when she's completely content with the grandparents at the moment. So we opted for a walk.

We walked up and down the streets in a nicer part of downtown Everett. The rule was that I had to walk through my contractions; no matter how hard it was or how teeny tiny my steps were, I had to keep moving. It. was. hard. Many of these contractions were painful enough where I was openly weeping as we walked. I lamented over what a sight I must be - a clearly very pregnant woman, in her sweats, bawling her eyes out and clinging to her husband. I thanked my lucky stars that this wasn't a small town or one where we could possibly run into someone! The icing on the cake - we walked by the local events center and they were just finishing up the home and garden show, so a ton of strangers got to witness this as well!

After an hour we returned and I got checked again. Sorry honey, no progression and your baby is sunny-side up. We were presented with the 3 options again - home, walk or water. Home still wasn't an option, walk was no longer desirable because it was getting dark. My birthing team was completely confident with breaking my waters because I was past my due date and all other risks were low. I decided to go for it - it was time to have a baby.

It was within a minute of breaking my water that I went into transition. In an attempt to help turn baby, the team had me do lunges using the side of the birthing tub. Lunges through 5 contractions, on each side. Oy. I got through my round of 5 contractions on my left side before I crumbled into my husband's arms and we decided to go into the water. This was an immense relief, though the contractions were still coming very fast and very hard. I remembered with Penny's birth that I was able to 'check out' in between contractions and rest. There was no resting here. Even in between contractions I was uncomfortable and barely paying attention to what anyone said.

The urge to push came a lot sooner than I expected and I pushed for several rounds on my knees and hanging my upper body over the edge of the tub, using Adam as support (the same way as I had done with Penny). Eventually it was time to get baby out (her heat rate had dropped) and I switched to being in a sitting position and was told to push with all my might. I got to the point where I knew I had either approached the ring of fire or I was tearing - the birth team urged me on and with a couple pushes I had my sweet baby girl in my arms!



With tears in our eyes we spoke to Ruby for the first time, welcomed her into this new world and marveled over her perfect features. She weighed in at 7 lbs 15 oz, 20.5" at 7:16pm. That's a full pound heavier and almost 3 inches longer than her sister was, sheesh!

From the moment that my water was broken to babe in arms was about an hour and 3 minutes. The only family who knew I was at the birth center were my parents - the paternal grandparents, aunts and uncles were all surprised with a picture text of Ruby and I!
This labor goes to show just how different each birth and child are! I went into labor spontaneously with Penny, had an 8 hour and 40 minute labor and she came in the morning. Over the last couple weeks I've been astonished at how quickly Ruby has grown, how different our breastfeeding relationship is and how I've emotionally coped with having a newborn again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sausage Spinach Calzones from Saving Said Simply

Nothing says YUM better than quick, easy, real ingredients and cheap! This is why I love pinning Christie from Saving Said Simply's recipes. This calzone recipe below can easily be adjusted to fit your family's tastes and even better.. I bet you can make them ahead of time and freeze them for a 'dinner in a pinch' night!
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When it comes to family dinner time, there's always a few staple recipes I keep on hand. One of our family favorites is this recipe for Sausage Spinach Calzones. Quick, hits all major food groups, crowd pleaser and less than $2 per serving, we have one happy (and full) family! I love saving leftovers for lunches the next day too. 

Ingredients:
  • 2 Cans Refrigerated Pizza Dough (I use Pillsbury THIN CRUST Pizza Dough - about $2 a can on sale)
  • 1 Jar of Pizza Sauce 14 oz. ($1.50 or less on sale)
  • 1 Sausage Roll 12 oz. (about $2.50-$3 on sale)
  • 1 cup of Shredded Cheese 8 oz. (Mozzarella or 4 Cheese Pizza works best) ($2.50 or less)
  • 2 cups Fresh Spinach, chopped (I buy them when BOGO $3.99 - or $2 each bag)
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk
  • Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese
TOTAL = about $12.50 for 8 calzones (or $1.56 per serving)


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown Sausage over medium heat. Drain.
2. Mix browned sausage, 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup shredded cheese and 1 cup of pizza sauce in large bowl until well coated.
3. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 can of pizza dough into 16 inch square. (This is why thin crust comes in handy). Cut into 4 inch squares.
4. Fill each square with about 1/2-3/4 cup of sausage mixture. Fold dough over into a triangle (gotta have the classic calzone shape).
5. Press edges together with a fork to seal. Prick tops of the calzones with a fork. Place calzones onto baking
sheet.
6. Repeat steps 3-5 for 2nd can of pizza dough
7. Brush milk onto tops of the calzones. (I cheat and just use my fingers instead of a brush. The idea is to keep the calzones from burning/drying out).
8. Add sprinkle Parmesan cheese (as you can tell, my son really likes this step).
9. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for about 18 minutes or golden brown. 

Makes 8 servings


Read more about Christie at Saving Said Simply: An Asian Mommy Blog for more great recipes, kid crafts, family-friendly ideas and giveaways! Christie loves providing honest reviews on family-related products and services and sharing her knowledge of everything Orlando too! You'll find some parenting laughs, kid mishaps and great adventures of her family of 4 as she "saves" each precious moment. Be sure to check out Christie's website and follow via FacebookTwitter, & Pinterest for more great family moments!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Guest Post: Spencer's Birth (by Momma Jorje)

Today I am sharing Spencer's birth story with you. Jorje, from Momma Jorje, chose Spencer's birth location based on his potential special needs after receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. 



I had a lot of contractions in my final trimester. They came often and they were hard. Because of this, our doctor had said that Spencer might (safely) arrive as early as 36-37 weeks. That'll make a family anxious! We were open to having Spencer any time as Giftmas approached. Then we hoped to wait a week. Our doctor was on vacation from December 25th - 30th.

At 11 o'clock on December 25th (11:04 actually, if I recall correctly), I decided I'd better go tell Tyler (13yo) to get to bed. Sasha (2yo) was still up with me. As I walked to the other end of the house, I noticed I was wet... really wet. I went to the bathroom to check myself and found some slight tinge of pink.

I got very shaky. I called my Jenni (my doula) and explained what was going on, including feeling like I was having a major adrenaline rush from the excitement of it. She reassured me that the shaking was normal anyway, but that we should get to the hospital. I didn't feel a need to rush, but I woke Elmo and we started getting ready. He carried the numerous bags out to the truck. We (Sasha, Elmo and I) were loaded up into the truck by 11:30. I called Jenni again to let her know we were on our way. Tyler was staying up at home, waiting for updates.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Easy meals with Mrs. T's Pierogies

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

What are some of the ways you've helped a new mama?

One of my favorite ways to bring support for new families is by bringing them a meal. We have been so blessed by family and friends who have been bringing us meals during Ruby's first month. It's really taken a load off of my shoulders (and let's be realistic- I've picked up a few new ideas for what to cook in the future!).

But I've also taken a step towards normalcy and have actually hosted a meal or two of my own! I can hear you veteran mamas clucking your tongues and reminding me to take it easy and just to let people help. But feeding people is a joy to me; and one that I can't deny myself of doing for too long.

Baby steps, though. I know my limits! So what is a super easy, quick and delicious meal that I can whip up in under 20 minutes that is a guaranteed win? Mrs. T's Pierogies, of course!

What is a Pierogie, you might ask? It's the Polish version of ravioli, to be honest. Mrs T's offers a variety of frozen flavors, such as potato and cheese (our favorite). You can serve these as a main or side dish, or create a fun finger food for a get together with friends. You can do them super simplely or fancy them up. There's no limit to how you can prepare them! You can even check out my Seahawks Beastmode inspired pierogies. ;)

Our favorite way to prepare Mrs. T's is very simple and only takes a few key ingredients.
You will need:
1 package of Mrs. T's Pierogies per 2 adults
1/2 lb of bacon
1/2 white or sweet Walla Walla onion, sliced thinly
Sour cream

You will do:
1. Chop your bacon into large bacon bit size. Cook on the frying pan until done; transfer to a plate and blot up the grease. Keep the remaining grease in the pan on low heat.
2. Gently saute your onion in the bacon grease.
3. While sauteeing the onions, boil your pierogies. Once they float they are all done!
4. Using a slotted spoon transfer the boiled pierogies to the pan with the onions. Turn up the heat to about medium and allow them to cook on each side until slightly crispy and brown.
 5. Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream on the side. YUM!

Whether it's game day, the season premiere of your favorite show, or just an average weeknight, Mrs. T's Pierogies are a delicious and perfect addition to any at-home get-together with friends. You can find 11 different Mrs. T's Pierogies flavors to fit the tastes of your family. 
Find more fun ways to serve pierogies by following Mrs. T's Pierogies on

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blogger Spotlight: Maman Loup

Today I'd love to introduce you to Lindsay, the mama behind Maman Loup's Den. She's become one of my favorite new blogs to check out on the daily and I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I do! 



Maman Loup means Mommy Wolf in French. (The “p” is silent, sounds like “Mama Loo.”) Why the 
language lesson? Well, because it’s all thanks to my passion for languages that I came to meet my 
husband while on exchange in Montreal, Quebec, and how I wound up moving here and raising our son
in this beautiful, bilingual city in eastern Canada. 

The wolf has always been my husband’s totem, and when I was pregnant with our son we called him 
“Wolfie.” We decided to make his middle name “Wolf,” so the motif for my blog is a pretty natural one.
Funnily enough, our family pets are not, in fact, of the canine variety: we’re all about cats!

I’ve been called a Green Queen, Militant Greenie and Recycling B*tch. I’m pretty intense when it comes 
to the environment, and I think my devotion has increased exponentially since becoming a Mom. If 
those nicknames don’t give you a hint, I like to share ways for others to follow suit. When I realized that 
my head was about to explode with all my ideas about how to make greener parenting choices and 
save money at the same time, I knew I had to start blogging. I like to think that my blog is about ECO-
parenting: ECOlogical and ECOnomical. 

I’m obsessed with cloth diapers, but I’ve expanded my blogging to other topics including making my own 
beauty products, thrifting and reflections on parenting in general. I like to dispense my green advice with a 
sense of humour! 

My 3 favourite blog posts are:
My exposé on false advertising at ShopDiaper.com
My musings on cloth diaper “safe” detergent and other cloth-washing recommendations
My post about using homemade shampoo 

I like to dispense advice on my blog, but I like to frame it in such a way that my readers know that I am 
only speaking from my own experiences as a new mom. What works for our family might not work for 
yours. My hope is that the research I put into my posts and my candid approach can be useful to other 
Moms trying to strike a balance between budget, baby and beyond. (Confession: I love alliteration.) 

The best advice that’s out there for any new Mom is find that oh-so-important Baby B: Balance. Avoid 
comparing yourself to other Moms and do what works best for you and your family. Trust yourself. You 
really do know what’s best! (I don’t always follow this advice, but I try!) 


Lindsay lives in Montreal with her toddler, husband and two cats. She is a high school language teacher 
and translator turned SAHM-Blogger. 

http://www.MamanLoupsDen.com
http://www.facebook.com/MamanLoupsDen
https://twitter.com/MamanLoupsDen
http://www.pinterest.com/mamanloupsden/

Monday, March 17, 2014

JBF Consignment Sale: Everett Spring 2014 Edition: Are you READY?!


Do you know what my top tip is for parents to save money? It's not skimping on the occasional family outings and it's definitely not cutting back on a food budget. It's not paying full price for things that can easily be reused. Like clothes. Especially children's clothes!

Not all used clothing stores and sales are created equal - there are some that let anything through the door and there are others that are a little too picky. My experience is that the Just Between Friends Consignment Sales events are the best bang for your buck. Each location generally holds 2-3 sales per year and are season specific. Today I'm sharing with you about the next Just Between Friends of Everett Spring Sale, which will be held in my town of Monroe at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds.

Why is JBF just so awesome, you might ask?
  • JBF sales carry a range of clothing and products that will suit families from pregnancy (gear and maternity clothing), the newborn stage all the way through teens. I've even seen some high school formal dresses show up at sales - only worn once and maybe a season old. 
  • Each sale will have sometimes hundreds of consignors - that's a huge pool of items to draw from!
  • You can expect to save 50-90% off of retail prices
  • Volunteers inspect each of the items before they go on the sales floor; ensuring there are no stains, holes, missing pieces or have a safety recall.
  • If you are a volunteer or consignor you get special perks such as early access to the sales floor or a higher percentage of return for your consigned items!
  • Each sale is franchised and locally owned, so the money you spend is returning to your community. Local vendors are also featured at each sale and you can support local businesses by checking them out too!
  • Get 50% off on the final day of the sale!
  • Be green by buying used clothes, toys and gear that are in great condition - all they're missing is that silly price tag.
I've had the chance to shop at the Just Between Friends of Everett sale twice now and each time the event just gets bigger and BIGGER! Because of the awesome selection of clothing and items at this sale I've been able to condense my spending budget to primarily shopping for my children's clothes twice a year, with very few "full price purchases" at big retailers throughout the year. Because the sales are seasonal, you can plan ahead and get that Easter outfit early (and at a great discount!) or pick up birthday presents for your kids, nieces and nephews within the next 6 months. Because of this tactic I can't even begin to guess how much money we've saved over the last two years, but I'm sure it is in the thousands.

Have I convinced you that JBF is the way to go for shopping for your kids?  Here comes the fun part! Seattle area mamas, this deal is for you. Just Between Friends of Everett, a special group of local bloggers and The Pierogie Mama want to have YOU shop early at the JBF of Everett 2014 Spring Event! The public sale is April 4-6, but we've put together some amazing prizes to get YOU shopping early!


This giveaway will end with 4 winners -the prizes up for grabs are:
(2) Prime Time Passes + $5 JBF Bucks - these lucky winners will get to shop first on Thursday 4/3/14 3:30PM - 8PM and each have $5 spending cash to get your savings smorgasbord started!

(2) Presale Passes  - Jump in on the sales on 4/3/14 between 5pm - 8pm.

The following morning on Friday 4/4/14 through Sunday 4/6/14 the public sale opens up. See the full calendar to get the details.


Ready to get your thrifty shop on? Enter in the giveaway widget below, and be sure to check back here on the evening of 4/3 to see what I snagged and what could be in store for you for the rest of the weekend!




Have you been to a Just Between Friends sale before? 
What was your proud score?



Be Social: Follow Just Between Friends Everett via



Disclosure: This post was sponsored by JBF Everett. The Pierogie Mama and participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is not associated in any way with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google. Winners will be contacted via email ONLY and will have their prize waiting for them at check-in for the JBF Everett Spring Sale Event.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Naturepedic Mattress Review & Giveaway

This post was originally part of the Lucky Little Ones giveaway hop with Irresistibly Green, Just Add Cloth, Our Piece of Earth
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We're a bed sharing family - Penny slept in our family bed from night one through actually exactly 18 months old when we moved into our new house. We never got her a crib; she always slept in our bed where ever we where. Towards the end of our co-sleeping time we had her start out the night in a Pack N Play next to my side of the bed and I'd pull her up into my arms when she was done sleeping alone.

Transitioning her into her own bed was surprisingly very easy. I was so thankful and vindicated that we waited until she was truly ready (even though it was honestly more of the progression of my second pregnancy that pushed us towards that milestone) and because of that there was no muss and no fuss. We were gifted a handmedown cute little wooden toddler bed that came with a mattress and I set her up with her own special blankets and we incorporated the Sleep Buddy nightlight system.

I've always been aware that organic mattresses exist but just never took the time to research what the true benefits were. Big surprise, coming from the writer of this blog, right? I know, I tout the benefits of organic, green and natural where ever I can but to be honest we're not all perfect, are we? And mattresses honestly were a big hole in my research that I knew I needed to get around to.

I realized that my daughter, the great sleeper that she is, spends upwards of 16 hours a day in her bed. That's a lot of time to spend with a product that I know very little about.

I learned that Naturepedic is one company that offers organic, high quality mattresses (for babies, children and adults). Just like the organic food that I strive to feed my family, organic mattresses do not have the same chemical treatments done to them like standard mattresses do. Naturepedic uses organic, US grown cotton (read about all their certifications) and still maintains fire safety standards for mattresses. Fire safety has been on my mind since this past summer when the neighbor's house burned down and I watched it all happen in less than 10 minutes - and there was an unattended 9 year old inside. A mother's worst nightmare, for sure.

Switching to an organic mattress is a worthwhile investment for everyone in the family and Naturepedic's commitment to higher standards is really what has stood out to me:

Priority #1: No harmful chemicals. 
Priority #2: No allergenic materials. 
Priority #3: Natural, organic and renewable materials wherever possible. 
Priority #4: Practical design (e.g. easy-to-clean waterproof cover). 
Priority #5: Third party independent testing and verification. 

(source)

Materials aside, let's talk about our experience with the quality of the mattress.

Putting my daughter to sleep, though it is rarely with a fight, can be time consuming. Miss Penny loves to soak in her last minute snuggles with either myself or Adam as we lay her down for bed. We had spent countless hours laying in that little bed with her, gently guiding her to peaceful sleep. Her original mattress was not comfortable but I always chalked it up to being a pregnant adult trying to fit herself into a toddler bed with a toddler. Bless that girl for sleeping so well; I don't think I'd be able to do the same! 

We have had the chance to review the Naturepedic Organic Cotton Quilted Deluxe baby/toddler mattress for about 2 months. From night one, if it was even possible, Penny slept even better. This mattress has a quilted top but it is also very firm and flat (as is recommended by the CPSC). I can feel my weight being transferred evenly across the mattress as I lay with her and don't feel like she is rolling down into me when I lay with her for the time that it takes for her to fall asleep. When she calls for us in the middle of the night to rub her back or lull her back to sleep, I have found myself actually getting a little bit of sound sleep for the few times that I have fallen asleep in bed with her! 

I love supporting companies who do their research, provide high quality products and have a heart for their customers. We've been so pleased with Penny's mattress that when the time comes to replace our mattress I'd love to invest in a Naturepedic replacement for us as well. 

Here's your chance to win your choice of Naturepedic organic crib sized mattress! These fit both cribs and toddler beds.

This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who entered!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. None of the above statements are meant to diagnose or treat any disease; please consult your care provider if you have any questions because I am not a health care professional! Just another mom telling you about my experience :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Blogger Spotlight: Blessed in Homemaking

Today I'd like to welcome Alix, from Blessed in Homemaking. Alix and I have a lot in common - we both are passionate about natural and green living, but I feel like there is so much to learn from this mama as well.  She is educated in herbalism and has an Etsy shoppe where you can check out her natural remedies as well! I hope you enjoy my interview with her and check out her blog too!
~Bianca

First off, tell me a little bit about yourself and your family. How you and your SO met, a little about your kids / pets, something unique to your family.
I am a stay at home wife and mother. My husband and I met at church youth group. He was the gorgeous and outgoing drummer, and I was an introverted girl 3 years younger than him. When we got together, we dated for a while, had a 5 months engagement, and got married! We got married outside, right next door to a skeet competition. We joke that we had a shotgun wedding. We have two littles so far. My husband and I want a large family. Both of our children were born at home, unassisted (yep, I'm one of those crazy people). Both were water births. They were both absolutely amazing experiences.



What is it that got you into blogging? Has that changed over time? 
I started blogging shortly after my first child was born. I wanted to write his birth story down, and decided to just start a blog so that I could write about him as he grew. 
 The focus of my blog has definitely changed over time. I rarely write about my children now, to protect their privacy, and instead I write about several other topics, including holistic and healthy living, herbal remedies, essential oils, tutorials, parenting, and marriage on occasion.

What is your "niche," or your favorite topic to write about?
Herbal and natural remedies. Hands down my favorite. It's my passion.

Share your top 3 favorite posts on your blog.

What is a piece of advice, inspiring quote or phrase that really stood out to you in motherhood?
"Parenting without discipline is chaos. Discipline without joy is tyranny."


Bio: Alix is a stay at home wife to a wonderful man, and mother to two sweethearts. She spends her days teaching her children about Jesus, keeping her home, blogging, and increasing her knowledge of herbs and essential oils. She is an herbalist, and has a passion for natural, healthy living, and loves to share that knowledge with others. She is also passionate about natural childbirth. She runs a small business out of her home, selling her natural remedies, supplements, and body care products.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My choice in a natural birth does not make me a superhero



Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes


This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


***




I write this as my second pregnancy draws to a close and I begin to anticipate the birth of our second daughter. Our first born, Penny, turned 2 years old on March 3rd and her little sister was expected to arrive any day.

As I reflect upon my previous pregnancy and Penelope's birth, I remember the polar opposite reactions that I got when our friends learned about our choice for a natural, unmedicated birth. Some were downright skeptical (of the safety, perhaps my ability?), only a few openly asked honest questions on why we'd choose to go this route and sadly even less were truly supportive. When I actually "went through with it" and came out on the other end with a beautiful, healthy baby girl, people were stunned that I walked out of my birth center 5 hours after delivery. 

That day - heck yea I felt like a superhero! Any woman who has made the transformation into a mother knows how this feels; regardless of how she gave birth.

But my triumph of a natural birth is no cause for being called a superhero. It was a huge personal victory, no doubt about that, but I don't need the credit that it seems to have gotten me. I was told that I was "so brave" to deliver outside of a hospital, and the question often comes up "what would happen if something went wrong?" Well, the c-section rate for Seattle hospitals was 24 - 39% in 2012. My birth center had a less than 2% transfer rate, which results in an even lower c-section rate. For me hospitals are where people go when they are sick, need help or make the personal choice in going there because that's where they feel the most comfortable. My highest level of comfort means delivering my children at a birth center, as long as I do not have an "at risk" pregnancy; but that doesn't mean I have any opinion on what your choice may be. 


Regardless of my absence from the "mommy wars" of birth choices, I feel like mothers who decide to deliver naturally are either put on a pedestal for their bravery or branded as ultra feminists, hippies or plain crazy. Don't even get me started on the looks I've known my friends to get when they share about their home birth or unassisted birth choices. But what's the point? We all deserve a pat on the back. We all did what we believed was best. 

A superhero is someone who goes above and beyond their abilities or comfort level. They do something truly extraordinary. A superhero helps others in need, puts them ahead of themselves at great personal cost. A superhero is a member of our military, law enforcement, health care providers, missionaries, rescue aid workers; the list goes on. I couldn't write an exhaustive life of superheroes because they range so vastly in their abilities and what they do for people. 


That doesn't go to say that we moms don't deserve a pat on the back every now and again! :) We are the every day superhero; we strive to put our family's needs and desires before our own. We are up earlier, stay up later, typically are hungry the longest. We share our bodies for 9 months and our hearts for a lifetime. But you won't see me in a cape and mask anytime soon...just my sweatshirt and yoga pants. 



***


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!


Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


(This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)




  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Nuby Squid the Squirter Review


This adorable little cephalopod is Nuby's Squid the Squirter bath toy. This is a part of the line of Nuby bath toys that I've been reviewing over the last few months (check out my reviews for the Octopus, Turtle and Fish  bath toys) and it was the one that took the longest for Penny to "grow" into.

It works like a water gun; just pull the yellow handle while keeping the orange tentacles under water to pull water up into the squid's head. Push the handle and a fairly gently stream of water pumps out.
After a few times of showing her how to do it, she began to get the hang of it.
Penny likes it because it's a fun squirter and we're working on where she is allowed to aim it!

The Nuby Squid the Squirter can be found on AmazonDiapers.combuybuyBabyCookie's Kids and Tuesday Morning

Make sure you follow along with Nuby on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram to keep up with all the latest products and promotions!



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I am writing this post as part of the NUBY Mommy Blogger Program.  I did not receive compensation for this post, although as part of the program I may receive items to sample or review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Learning about Natural, Handmade Soaps from Stargazer Soaps

I've written about Stargazer Soaps several times in the past, and during my maternity leave I've asked the owner, Nicole, to share her testimony on why soap making became her business. I've been in love with these soaps since first trying them out almost a year ago and Nicole continues to impress with her new batches! 
-Bianca
----
As a stay at home mom to four, I have made it my quest to eliminate chemicals from our home. While at first I focused on cleaners, I realized I was missing something even bigger. What we put on our skin every day. 

Have you ever stopped and read your soap labels? If you have, you will see ingredients like Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, & Tetrasodium EDTA. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even pronounce these ingredients! And when you investigate what they are, you will uncover even more ingredients that you can’t pronounce. But as you dig, you may discover some scary things are hidden in these big ingredients. For example, formaldehyde. Yes, that is right! Most commercial soaps, (and I use the word 
“soap” loosely), have formaldehyde in them! They aren’t going to label the product with formaldehyde. Why? Because consumers wouldn’t buy it if they knew what was in it. Why is this so scary? Because it only takes seconds for our skin – our largest organ and our first line of defense – to absorb these dangerous chemicals. 

Bottom line, these products are not soap, but detergents. If you look at your body wash or bar soap, most of them do not use the term “soap” on the label. In fact, one large company is currently running a campaign claiming soap is drying. Their argument is they add products to make their body bar, aka detergent, moisturizing. Again, when reading the labels you will discover there is not one moisturizing ingredient listed. It is still a detergent, which is designed to clean your shower and strip your skin of its natural oils.
Purely Natural Oatmeal and Honey. Creamy & gentle, this Purely Natural soap is made with local Honey & Goats milk.  No fragrance is added, so this is gentle enough for those with allergies and sweet babies.
When I first discovered what was really in my shower, I started researching natural products. I headed to my natural grocery store, and bought expensive, organic natural products. Only to discover that even though they claimed to be natural & organic, they were still detergents. 

In addition to all of the scary chemicals, I learned commercial products contained animal products, such as crushed bugs for color, (it’s in food too!), and animal fat. Personally, I was disgusted by these things. I did not want to lather my body up in fat – I have enough of my own! (It’s important to note that many handmade soaps are made with tallow or lard – and I hear are quite wonderful! I chose to not use products made with these ingredients.)

This began my quest for change. There had to be something better! My family has horribly sensitive skin. One of my children has horrible eczema – her skin feels like a lizard and bleeds. It makes me wonder – it seems we hear more and more about skin conditions like eczema. Is it because of all of the chemicals allowed on the market? The foods we eat? There are some scary things out there that we have been told are okay for us – but I have trouble believing that! 


Get Cygnus: Coconut, Lime Verbena. Fruity & wonderful!
This soap will be completely cured by March 4, 2014.
While during my research, I learned that eczema may actually be an allergic reaction to formaldehyde found in our cosmetic products. Though I was scared to death, I decided making my own soap was the answer for my family. I can read every ingredient, have control of what I use, and can eat most of it! (See me make soap on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/StargazerSoaps) Since it has to cure, it took 6 long weeks before we could use my first batch. But it was worth the wait. Now, more than a year later, our dry skin is gone, my daughter hasn’t had an eczema break out once, and we have thrown out all of our commercial face & body soaps, body washes and shampoos. Yes, even shampoo! Read more about shampoo bars on my blogIn addition to soap, we use handmade lotions, scrubs, bath bombs and lip balms. 

I will be rolling out many new products this year! Be sure to follow me on Twitter & Facebook to learn about my new products and specials! 

Take control of what is in your products! I offer vegetarian & vegan handmade luxury soaps. Try handmade soap today and see how it can change your skin. 


Use code Natural15 for 15% off your order 
until the end of March at Stargazer Soaps

~Nicole Farrell
Owner & Creator Stargazer Soaps

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Pierogie Babies: 40 weeks - where's my kid? & someone turns 2


Ruby

Well, here we are at full term and I am shocked - no baby. I had Penny at exactly 39 weeks and for this entire pregnancy I was positive that I'd have Ruby on the same week. Well, 39 came and went without anything to write home about. It feels so weird to wait on a baby, because as Penny's birth story went, we were caught by surprise when she was born. I was expecting to go over 40 weeks with Penny and so I never had that anticipation feeling. This time I set myself up and was expecting an early baby so I've been on watch since 38 weeks - I would have never imagined still being pregnant 2 weeks later! 

So this girl continues to bake away and although I'm just ready to hold her in my arms, I count my blessings. I'm not in any extraordinary amounts of discomfort. My hips ache but a good chiropractic adjustment this week did the trick. My stomach skin feels stretched and itchy; but no stretch marks and my regimen of organic coconut oil during the day and having hubby rub down the belly with Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve in the evenings has kept my skin nice and soft. Penny got to keep her birthday as her own. Ruby's due date was 3/4 and Penny's birthday is 3/3 so there was a chance for them to share a birthday. It didn't happen and we got to celebrate in a small, special way. I feel pretty prepared for this baby to come. The cloth diaper laundry is kept up on, I have lots of extra food stored in the freezer, our birth bag is in the car and I have labor food at the ready in the fridge. The blessings keep pouring in but one little blessing in particular is taking her sweet time and I just have to be patient and let her come when she is ready! :)
Penny
My big girl turned 2 on Monday but we kept it pretty quiet. Her paternal grandparents came over for dinner and cake on Sunday. We are postponing her big, fun birthday party until mid April and piggybacking a "meet the baby" event along with it.

When I remind myself about where we were 2 weeks ago in my last Pierogie Babies update, I'm again impressed at just how quickly children grow and change. Penny seems to have a good grasp on the concept of "turns" (even though she doesn't always agree with them) and is transitioning to consistently saying "please" and "thank you" rather than signing them. She working on 3 and sometimes 4 word sentences and surprises me daily with things that she picks up on. We were visiting a cousin yesterday and she pulled out a Finding Nemo book and asks me to read the Nemo book...but I haven't introduced her to Nemo yet. How did she know this? She's also become much more social at library time and at the bouncy house that we visit; which was a struggle until lately because of her shyness. We haven't been going to our MOPS group regularly due to battles with the crud or avoiding the crud so I'm not sure how she would do when she's put into a situation where I leave her but overall if she knows I'm around she appears to be totally fine leaving me and playing independently. That wasn't anywhere close to being an option 2 months ago, so I'm proud of her burgeoning courage and curiosity to play with other children.  

Family Cloth... Really?? (Guest post from Momma Jorje)

Momma Jorje is one of my go-to natural parenting and green living blogs. She has so much to share and has opened my eyes about a ton of new ideas! While we haven't dove into the family cloth idea, we definitely use cloth wipes with our cloth diapers and I much prefer them to disposables. I love to learn about new ideas and keep an open mind about things, so if you ever had any questions about the 'family cloth' thing - here you go. 
~Bianca


The first time I really read about "Family Cloth" was on OrganicSister.com. I thought it was a nice, green idea... but a little too far out there for this self-proclaimed "slightly crunchy momma." Still... I read the entire thing with some fascination.
Visit Natural Parents Network
Over time, I got involved in some crunchy circles and heard mention of others that practice the use of family cloth. In the Fall of 2011, we traveled to a gathering of just such a crunchy circle (the Natural Parents Network Volunteers).

Visit Code Name: MamaThis was to be my very first in-person experience with family cloth. Our host (Code Name: Mama) offered regular toilet paper, but I immediately recognized a stack of family cloth in a basket on the back of the toilet. After looking around a bit, I realized that the bag on the doorknob was a "wet bag." I could hardly believe I was in the situation. So... I tried it! What did I have to lose?

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