Monday, November 17, 2014

Instanatural Stretch Mark Reduction


Like many moms, since becoming pregnant, I have looked for natural alternatives to many beauty products. And I have scars and stretch marks post pregnancy that I am trying to get rid of. Luckily for me, Instanatural sent me the following products to try.

Stretch Mark CreamI love how easily this stretch mark cream glides on, how quickly it dries and that it really works. Also, the pump mechanism on the dispenser a great delivery method because it dispenses the same amount of product, thus reducing waste. The product is pleasant smelling, only needs to be applied twice a day to work and really moisturizes skin. I like also that the product uses natural ingredients.

I have tried other stretch mark creams, since, you know, I have stretch marks from pregnancy, and it is much more pleasant to use than the other creams which makes me more likely to apply it which makes it more effective in treating the stretch marks.


Argan Oil For Hair, Face, Skin & NailsI am a huge fan of argan oil as a moisturizer and this product is a great value. Many other argan oils I have used are much more expensive for less oil. This product is organic and works just as well as the others. The dispenser is really good at controlling output and reducing waste. And the quantity makes it the perfect size to use on my body and hair, whereas in smaller bottles I never felt there was enough to use on more than my face.



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Toddlers Eating Vegetables

BB's Breakfast.
When Baby Buckshot (Toddler Buckshot now?) first started eating solids, he ate everything and loved it. New textures, new flavors, something that isn't breastmilk! And when I was pregnant, and now that I'm breastfeeding, I make sure to eat lots of vegetables so that BB would get familiar with vegetable flavors. Now that's he toddling, it seems those efforts were less than effective!

After coming back from MommyCon Newport Beach, and learning that toddlers need to be exposed to a vegetable at least 7 times before acquiring a taste for it, I came up with some ways to help this along.

1. Bake into muffins or bread. More fibrous vegetables do very well in baked goods when shredded. Think carrots, zucchini, beets, even celery. If going for a sweet bread, try adding in fruit along with the veggie to make it more pleasant. If going for a savory bread, adding in some shredded cheese often helps the item be a little more kid friendly.

2. Infuse water. I have this really awesome FlavFusion Infuser Water Bottle that I put various things to spruce up my water with and BB LOVES the thing. When he sees it, he immediately wants some to drink. So, one day, I added in spinach and apple slices to the infuser. I've also done cucumber and mint, which I personally enjoy anyway. Just don't add a sour fruit along with a vegetable in the infuser because the combination of sour from fruit and slight bitterness from vegetables did not go over well with BB.



3. Make "ice cream." BB, early on, found a love of eating cold and frozen items. A way that I've used this to my advantage is by taking frozen fruits, a handful of greens and blending them with hemp or coconut milk and creating a frozen treat. He doesn't get as excited about it as he does real ice cream, but like Dr. Alan Greene said, it only takes one bite, multiple times.

4. Blend into soup/dip. BB recently learned that he loves dipping. When given a soup he doesn't like to eat, he will, however, consume the entire soup with a carrot used as a dipping mechanism. I saw him do it with tomato soup. Naturally, it's easy to blend steamed vegetables into a hummus dip or just simply make a soup out of it when blended with chicken broth, which goes a long way with getting BB to like it.

A video posted by hoshnasi (@hoshnasi) on


5. Put into a sausage patty. Turns out, toddlers love sausage. I spoke with a number of moms and they all said the same thing. Likely because they are nugget-like in shape and easy to hold. Making sausage at home is easy and adding a new vegetable into the mix is relatively easy.

6. Mix in a salad. Sometimes, I'll steam a vegetable and mix it in with a fresh fruit salad for BB. I cut everything around the same size and make it really colorful and inevitably, he'll eat a few bites of the vegetable. I am one sneaky mommy.

7.  Eat together. For some reason, toddlers assume whatever their caregivers are eating is delicious. BB is no exception. If I am obviously enjoying something, he immediately wants to try it. This is a good way to show kids what the vegetable actually looks and feels like without adding in to something else. Sure, sometimes BB will spit out a vegetable, but the fact that he's had a bite is one step in the right direction.

One day soon, my goal of having a vegetable loving child will be achieved.

Monday, November 3, 2014

MommyCon Newport Beach 2014

As someone who is active in no less than half a dozen mommy groups, most of which are focused around the more mainstream crunchy aspects of parenting, like babywearing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering and natural products, MommyCon Newport Beach was like walking into a room where my Mommy Facebook groups came to life. Actually, the moment I got out of my car, Baby Buckshot and I ran into two mamas from Socal Babywearers that I instantly recognized. Instead of Caw-Cawing (the official call of one SoCal Babywearer to another), however, I went ahead and introduced myself. And much of the rest of MommyCon was like that. Running into mamas I knew from my groups or talking to mamas who were in my groups but I had never talked to before. I had found my tribe!


Here are some highlights, as I didn't make it to MommyCon in time for anything before 11am, I missed Babywearing Yoga AND Babywearing 101!

Sleep Consultations with Rebecca Michi
Rebecca Michi is a published author and authority on children's sleep from 0-6 years old. Specializing in gentle sleep methods, her book combines a number of different sleep methods, giving the reader options best suited for each child instead of a one size fits all sleep recommendation. The sleep consultation sessions at MommyCon were by appointment only as she booked 6 moms for each 30 minute session, addressing each of our issues in 5 minutes. Obviously, 5 minutes is nothing in terms of an in depth sleep evaluation but here are some of her tips:

If baby is having a hard time transitioning or staying asleep in a crib or pack-n-play, it is possibly the mattress or a comfort issue. Many times, crib mattresses are not as soft or cushioned as the parent's bed so changing to a softer mattress might help. She also explained that pack-n-plays are not really made for sleeping so they are not very comfortable for babies. She recommended MamaDoo Mattress Topper for parents who want to continue using the pack-n-play in lieu of a crib or co-sleeping. 

As babies transition through sleep phases, reducing from multiple naps down to 1 or 2 a day, she explained that to keep babies sleep schedules on track, it is both helpful and not detrimental, to wake a sleeping baby. Shortening, specifically, the second nap of the day, to a 15-30 minute nap can help baby get on track for a sleep schedule.

My problem, of BB not staying asleep for longer than 2-3 hours at a time at night, and needing to nurse back to sleep was addressed in depth, lucky for me! Against everything I have read about babies BB's age, Rebecca noted that many babies still do wake from hunger and that this frequency of awaking is completely normal. However, BB is using nursing as a sleep crutch so it would be important to teach him to put himself back to sleep.

She recommended that, while I can continue to nurse him at the beginning of the night and for a middle of the night feed, the lights should be dimly on to communicate that nursing is awake time. Then for the other night wakings, to sooth him to sleep without nursing. In her experience, it only takes 3 nights for a new sleep habit to be learned making a long weekend the perfect time to teach a new sleep lesson.

Swag  Bags
There were so many vendors giving away such great stuff at this event. The best two items were Kinde Twist Starter Kits and with my Project: Breastfeeding add-on, Beco Soliel baby carriers!

WeanGreen gave away Glass baby food containers, a Mam bottle, a Zen Rock teething necklace and a Diono Screenshade were included in the swag bags from Cottonbabies as well as lots of coupons. The swag included for the attendees more than covered the cost of a ticket. Score!

In the breastfeeding lounge, there were also complimentary Milkin' Cookies and water for all the mamas. And those cookies were SO good. 


Tackling Toddler Trickiness with Dr. Alan Greene
Dr. Alan Greene, author of Feeding Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Program for Healthy, Safe Nutrition During Pregnancy, Childhood, and Beyond and Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care, spoke on the topic of why toddlers becoming picky about food and how to address is. Here are some of the more interesting points:

  • Toddlers are wired to reject foods that are in the slightest bit bitter or sour as a survival mechanism. In nature, typically when something is bitter or sour, it is a warning that it is not safe to eat. 
  • Familiarity will cause a child to enjoy a food. Repeated offerings of one bite in 7-12 different instances from a trusted source, like mommy, daddy or other regular caregiver, gives baby the exposure and understanding that a food is both safe and eventually enjoyable. 
  • Pregnant women who eat something, like carrots, at least 12 times during pregnancy, are likely to have children that immediately like that food item when first trying it. In utero, baby has more tastebuds than any other time in life, so baby can remember the flavor from the womb and in turn already registers it as familiar when having first solids. 
  • Heroes endorsing foods make children more likely to eat them. For instance, a container of cherry tomatoes, with a sticker of Elmo on it, may result in a child being more willing to try and like the tomatoes. 
  • Early exposure to real food textures in various forms is important. It was found that because children were more exposed to tomato purees, they liked the flavor of tomatoes but often rejected fresh tomatoes because they were only used to the tomatoes in pureed form and didn't like the fresh texture.
  • Growing vegetables from a seed makes a child much more likely to love that vegetable. Getting a child involved in the harvesting, picking or preparation of a vegetable, exponentially increases the likelihood that they will enjoy the food. 
  • If a toddler is having a hard time even trying one bite of a new food, mix the item with flavors they already find familiar and enjoy. For instance, if the child enjoys marinara sauce but is rejecting broccoli, cover the broccoli with marinara sauce.
  • Toddlers like to refuse things they are given but offering limited options, like asking them if they would like an apple or a banana, gives them the illusion of control making them less likely to protest what they are being given to eat.

Dr. Jay Gordon and Jaime Lynne Grumet
When I first saw Jaime Lynne Grumet, at MommyCon, she was wearing this gorgeous  puffy skirted dress and a very high heels with her hair and make-up done to a tee. I couldn't believe that she was a mom, and if she was, she must have been a model/celebrity. Little did I know, she's actually one of the most famous moms from the cover of Time Magazine.

She, the accidental face of Attachment Parenting mothers everywhere, along with Dr. Jay Gordon, spoke on a number of AP topics from how much protein do kids need (answer: don't worry about protein, feed them more vegetables), extended breastfeeding and answered much of the audience's questions.

Project: Breastfeeding
A lot of moms hire a professional photographer to commemorate their breastfeeding days. I considered that but when the Project: Breastfeeding add-on ticket went live, I immediately jumped at the chance. Get my breastfeeding picture taken by a famous photographer while also helping to destigmatize breastfeeding? That's a win-win.

Hector was simply amazing to work with, infinitely patient as Baby Buckshot all of sudden was more interested in playing than nursing (the children's play area was right next to the Project: Breastfeeding area.) We had to come back a few times before BB settled down and started to nurse while I was sitting on the chair. By that time, I was a tired mess and BB would only settle in one position. For a minute, I felt really self conscious and put a fake smile on and was disappointed that my picture probably wouldn't turn out very pretty. But, given my 13 months of breastfeeding, me being a tired mess catering to BB in whatever fashion I could take care his needs, is probably the most honest picture of our journey.

It was also a pleasure hearing about Hector's experience with the project. From taking a picture of a mom's last time breastfeeding her child, to capturing some moms breastfeeding babies multiple times, first nursing little squish babies and now as toddlers. I cannot express how much I love this project and look forward to seeing my less than perfect but actually quite accurate picture.

Babywearing Lounge
This was the mecca of babywearing. From various wraps to soft structured carriers of all ergonomic makers, the babywearing educators and representatives from Beco and Ergo provided a very comprehensive picture of what today's babywearing world has to offer. Yes, that is Jamie Grayson, aka theBabyGuyNYC, in the center. I did not realize it was him when I was trying to get a panoramic picture. Looking back, he probably thought I was being a creeper taking his picture and not asking first!  Ooops! Sorry Jamie!

I also have to note that this event is just babywearing heaven. The Tula Wrap Conversions and gorgeous woven wraps all the mamas were wearing their babies in was better than a fashion show. ETLA, Meeyoo, Pavos, Giras abound. It was a real life Stash Shot Saturday!

MommyCon was a great experience! Highly recommended for expectant mothers or those who have children toddler age or younger.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One Year of Parenthood


One year ago today, after 25 hours of labor, and 10 months of pregnancy, I had a little boy. This little boy went from being a helpless little swaddled bundle of joy to a mobile and demanding toddler of joy.

Here is a sample of what I've learned this past year.

Pregnancy is the easy part. No really, anything that happened from vomiting everyday for 4-5 months to waddling around like the worlds heaviest bowling ball was resting on my pelvis was easy in comparison to now. Why? Because the Baby Buckshot was safe in my belly and not out in the world where he is only attracted to the most dangerous thing in the room. Why yes, BB, thank you for reminding me that I forgot to cover one electrical outlet in the entire house.

Babies sleep less over time. First day in the hospital, BB slept a lot. So much so that the hubs and I wondered if we had won the baby lottery. Until the second day, when he cried all night. And then the first week, when he didn't know when to sleep and when to stay awake. Then, just when we got any kind of nap and bedtime rhythm down, sleep regressions and teething hit and it was back to square one. Over. And. Over. But it is try, try again.

I am softer than I thought. Not just in the pudgey postpartum belly way, but in the, "Now, I have all the feels so when I watch a sappy movie or read a touching quote, tears" way. Something my husband, who had never really seen me cry before, is having to adjust to. There was a line in Love Actually, "Joni Mitchell is the woman who taught your cold English wife how to feel." Baby Buckshot is my Joni Mitchell.

Nothing bonds women like motherhood. I was never a girl's girl. Most of my friends were men, I had a hard time keeping long lasting friendships with women until motherhood. Suddenly, all the female friends of my past have re-emerged and there's an instant support group. Old friends, new friends, all friends. If you have a kid, I'm likely going to be your friend.  I'm going to guess this has to do with the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing, has taught me not to judge other people's lives like a little human being who has obviously been put into my life to see everyone else's perspective. No judgement here, other mamas. Just another mom trying to do her best with what she has.
 
Moms fight. Over everything. Did I also mention that nothing riles up other women against each other like motherhood? I wrote about it briefly here but I have to say it again. Nothing seems to hit a woman to her core like commenting on how she's opting to feed her infant child. Breastfeeding, formula, nursing in public, adding cereal to a bottle. Oh. My. Drama. Llama.

Poop can travel far. This is one of the early, most poignant lessons. A lifetime of only seeing excrement go into a toilet bowl did not prepare me for the ability of a tiny human to blow poop straight across a changing table, past a lamp and directly onto a wall. More than once.

The greatest expression of our love is also the greatest challenge to our marriage. My idealistic prenatal self thought that parenthood would be this amazing bonding experience where my husband and I would feel magically connected. And most of time, this is true. We have learned the ability to collaboratively take care of BB, even when upset with each other. We just seem to get upset with each other much more often. The first year of parenthood rivals the time we spent planning our wedding in terms of conflict and only now am I hearing that this is very common for first time parents. For those just starting, it takes about a year and it all works out.

Breastfeeding. There is no skill I have ever learned that is as emotionally charged as breastfeeding. And succeeding to this point give me this deep sense of accomplishment, for doing something my body was made to do. It's weird how something that was so stressful and painful in the beginning gives me sad pause when I think about it ending.

Everything is fleeting. For someone like me, who is a constant planner, learning to let go and deal with one short term problem at a time was a learning process. Solutions for some baby problems were absolutely necessary one minute and totally obsolete the next. Turns out, life seems to move slow but the moments just fly by.

My mother really, really, really loves me. It took becoming a mother in my 30s to realize the depth of my mother's love for me. It has spanned my lifetime, it has included my husband and now her grandchild. Until I loved my own baby, I had no idea the depth of a mother's love. Afterall, who goes from changing a person's diaper 30 something years ago to changing that person's child's diaper three decades later? Only a woman in love.

Happy birthday, Baby Buckshot. I love you to infinity and back.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Baby Mum Mum Review

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to give me Chinese rice crackers. They were wrapped two in a bag, always perfectly crispy and airy and my brother and I would eat 5 bags at a time. They were also sodium laden with the equivalent of a whole package of MSG (mmm... so good.)

When I heard about Baby Mum-Mums, they sounded so familiar. When I looked them up online, they looked so familiar. Naturally, I went searching for this remnant of my childhood, food memories of my grandmother that I could share with my son as long as they were no longer sodium filled. 

I went to the local store and they had store brand rice rusk snacks, which weren't very good, but had the crispy to the bite but melt in the mouth texture. I immediately reached out to Hot Kid about their Baby Mum Mums so I could let Baby Buckshot try some since he was moving into eating solids.

Baby Mum-Mums are basically the perfect baby snacks. They come in a variety of flavors, organic options and, like the rice crackers of my childhood, come two in a bag with the rice rusk texture, without the MSG of my youth. 

Here are the highlights:

Perfect for Traveling. Seriously, if you have ever accidentally had a canister of Gerber puffs open up in your Rebecca Minkoff diaper bag, you understand how brilliant this individually wrapped packaging is. Getting to avoid that horrendous puff dust over everything in the car is also a huge plus.

Great size for Baby Led Weaning. A lot of baby snack foods are small which means baby has to be old enough to use the pincher grasp or they're just shoving a whole handful of puffs in their mouth which ends up in gagging.  Sure, there's gagging in Baby Led Weaning but Baby Mum Mums are large enough for young eaters to grab a hold of and gnaw on.

Teething. Speaking of gnawing on, these are great teething biscuits. Seriously, they start out hard like a cracker and as drool from the teething gets absorbed by the cracker, it gets soft enough for baby to gum.

Gluten Free. Not only do they come in organic varieties, they are gluten free, which allows some of the hip parents in metropolitan areas to stick with their no-wheat diets. Because let's be honest, we all steal a couple of bites here and there of our babies snacks. To make sure they're safe, of course.

Doesn't get stale.  Stale baby snacks are the worst. I'm not sure that Baby Buckshot can tell when something is stale but I can. For the life of me, I can't figure out why packages of baby snacks are never able to seal tight enough to keep the food from losing its crunch. Individual packaging is a no brainer in preventing the stale issue. Which, again, is probably not that important to BB, but is very important to me.

Subtle taste. There are flavors like Carrot, Apple, Banana and they all taste like those things but without the sugar or salt. If you've ever tried one of those gastromy based restaurants where there's an aroma that is released when opening a plate, it's kind of like that. Just the essence of those flavors. This is particularly good for early eaters because it doesn't ruin their tastebuds for healthy vegetables or fruit with artificially sweet or salty seasonings.

But hey, you don't have to take my word for it. I'm going to send a few lucky winners some samples. Enter below to receive a few individual wrapped packages of a few different Baby Mum Mum flavors for you and your little ones to try yourselves! Multiple winners on this one. ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love You Forever Book Review


Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is a classic children's book. Though most might not know it by name, we know it by the quote, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

Though in Mommy circles, where we all want to dissect every baby to prove that we have something valuable to add to the conversation, this book is criticized as being the Helicopter Parent's Worst Case Scenario. That is until it is put into perspective of why the book was written.


Mr. Munsch tells the story of how this book was written on his website:
“I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.
For a long time it was just a song but one day, while telling stories at a big theatre at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song.

Out popped Love You Forever, pretty much the way it is in the book.”


Now, I can't even read about the book without crying. Here's a video so you can cry with me.

 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Straws and Sipping Success

I can drink from a straw.
There are moments when I wonder if all of the effort I put in to teaching Baby Buckshot things has any real effect on his advancement. After all, he's going to learn how to walk, talk and break things all on his own anyway.

But recently I read that learning how to drink from a straw is actually critical to linguistic development. Where drinking from a soft spouted sippy cup is much like drinking from a bottle and drinking from a hard spout or lidless cup uses reflexes that baby has from birth, drinking from a straw forces babies to develop muscles in their mouths not previously used. The same muscles that are necessary to pronounce some words.

Naturally, I was determined it teach BB how to drink from a straw. I've tried before and he just sits there waiting for me to drop water in with mouth with the straw because I've done that before.

Yesterday, I tried giving him a cup with a straw. Same lack of sucking motion on his part. Then I dropped water into his mouth from the straw and he did like a hamster with a water bottle does. Then, I held the end of the straw closed, forcing him to suck to get the water out. He successfully learned how to suck on a straw but when offered the cup with a straw again, he went back to his "waiting for a dropper" attitude.

I tried the whole process again but then started lowering the end of the straw I was holding lower and lower until it would sit in a cup. Then, voila, he got it. From start to finish, it took him about 5-10 minutes to figure it out.

Now he's drinking from a straw like a pro and I'm feeling pretty good about my teaching skills. Next up, identifying colors.

 

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