Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chlorine Shower Filter

Back when we bought our Berkey water filter, we also got a chlorine shower filter. We weren't able to put it up right away, but with all my nesting and "to do" lists in preparation for the baby coming, it is finally up. Installation was easy enough. The only slight drawback is that we had a detachable hand held shower head and it didn't work with this filter. It was also a low flow shower head to conserve water, whereas this one is not. Otherwise the shower filter works great and we can tell a difference in the water. The chlorine smell is gone, and although it hasn't been up very long, I think it may be helping our skin not to be so dry.

I decided that we needed a chlorine shower filter after all of my research on water filtration. You can read the What's In My Water series part 1, part 2, and part 3 for more information. Chlorine is added to water in order to clean it, but is actually a toxic chemical. While I'm thankful for chlorine and its role in preventing diseases and providing clean water, I do think its worth removing the chlorine before drinking or showering with the water. You can receive 6 to 100 times more chlorine by breathing the air around a shower or bath than by drinking the water. Big Berkey Water Filters has an informative article here on their blog about chlorine.

The shower filter lasts about a year and removes or reduces chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, microorganisms, scale and water soluble heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and iron. It also kills bacteria and inhibits the growth of mold, algae, and fungi. In an enclosed area like a shower, the chlorine in water can vaporize and be inhaled. The shower filter works by converting chlorine into a water soluble chloride. The chloride behaves differently than chlorine in that it cannot evaporate or be absorbed by the skin. More is explained about the process here.

I highly recommend Big Berkey Water Filters - they have great customer service. The first shower filter that we received ended up leaking from the silver band once we put it up. After an email to Big Berkey Water Filters about the problem, I had a new shower filter shipped to me right away along with a postage paid label to return the old one. If you're interested in purchasing a shower filter or Berkey water filtration system, we have a code good for 5% off of your order "oneword5".

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Cloth Diaper Store! (Review and Giveaway)

EcoBuns is a brand new cloth diaper store not far from my home! I first discovered EcoBuns through a friend, and then when I met Kellie in person we realized that we had worked together at a daycare 5 years ago. She is now a stay at home mom to two boys age 4 and 15 months and is just starting her cloth diapering website. If you live in the area, she has a great display set up right in her home where you can come and shop (give her a call or email first). She also does free cloth diaper classes at various places - you can check her calendar here. Kellie loves to chat and is great at helping her customers find what they need whether they are just getting started in cloth or have specific questions about something.

We received a Fuzzi Bunz One Size diaper from Kellie to try out and review. I was excited to try this for a few different reasons - for one thing, I can use this with Julia and simply adjust it to fit the newborn baby in January (or whenever Julia eventually potty trains...). I also like that it comes with extra elastic and it looks simple enough to replace. I still haven't tackled replacing the elastic on all of my old BumGenius and Fuzzi Bunz diapers, ugh. The velcro on my older diapers has worn out as well, so I like that the Fuzzi Bunz diapers close with snaps that won't wear out.

The diaper comes with two inserts, one slightly smaller than the other. The small insert seems a bit big for the small setting - I'll have to try it out with the new baby and see how it works. In this photo, I have both of the inserts in the diaper which makes it a bit puffy, but it still fits well around the legs and waist. Both inserts are nice and thick and we haven't had any leaks with this diaper. I do wish the inserts for all my pocket diapers were labeled though so that others could help me stuff diapers. Grandma and Daddy can never tell which insert to put in which diaper, although I suppose that doesn't matter much.

The elastic is easy enough to adjust - it is just like the adjustable waistband pants for kids with the button that fits through the elastic in several places. There is a chart that explains which numbered slots in the elastic correspond to which sizes, and thats a bit confusing at first. Once you figure out the sizing though, you just set it and leave it which is nice. Other one size diapers that we've used have snaps on the front of the diaper and these sometimes end up pressing into Julia's legs and leaving a mark so this hidden elastic adjustment is a good option for us.

Overall we like this diaper and use it often. Aqua is Julia's favorite color, so she chooses this diaper just for that reason. You can get these in a wide variety of fun colors. If you'd like to try one out, you're in luck! EcoBuns is offering one reader a Fuzzi Bunz One Size diaper. To enter the giveaway, check out their website and leave a comment letting me know another item that they sell. Be sure to leave your email address in the comment so that I can contact a winner. For an extra entry, become a fan of EcoBuns on facebook - just follow the link on their home page and leave a separate comment letting me know that you became a fan. The giveaway will close on January 12th at midnight. (as long as I'm not having a baby that day)

EcoBuns has a great selection of products and even a "try cloth for $25" program that is worth checking out. There are also some great info pages with cost comparisons, differences between the different types of diapers, how to wash cloth diapers and more. If you'd like to go shopping right away, Kellie is offering a discount code "ecobuns10" good for 10% off of any order. This expires 1/30/10. Thanks Kellie, and welcome to the neighborhood EcoBuns!

**The giveaway is closed, thanks for your interest. chose Heidi as the winner!**

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thoughts on Home Birth

I'm 37 weeks and 3 days today. Lucy came the day after her due date and Julia was born at 37 weeks and 5 days, so we're just playing the waiting game now. Either way, baby will be here very soon! I'm mostly ready, there are just a few little projects around the house that I'm trying to finish up. My midwife did her home visit here the other day and we have the birth supplies all ready to go. If you read Story Number One and Story Number Two, you know that with my other two labors my water broke (and gushed out of me), so I'm of course wondering if and when that will happen. At the wedding shower I have to go to on Tuesday? At church? In the car? Of course this labor could be completely different...

So why on earth am I planning a home birth? The idea was completely foreign to me with my first pregnancy. By the second time through, even though I knew several people who had home births, I still wasn't even close to considering it. Of course I haven't actually had a home birth yet, but thought I would share some of my thoughts about it with you.

My second birth went a long way toward helping me see that birth is a natural event. Preparing for the birth with Bradley classes and succeeding in my goal of a drug free birth were both great confidence builders. With Julia's birth, we denied almost everything the hospital had to offer - no vitamin K, no eye ointment, no drugs or IVs, no vaccination for baby, waited to cut the cord, waited to bathe her until the next day, and kept her next to me in my bed the whole time. While I understand that each of these are personal choices, at some point it occurred to me to wonder why I went to the hospital just to deny everything. The hospital was great about respecting my wishes, but even so, I felt a bit on guard and Ross had strict instructions to watch Julia like a hawk any time a nurse entered the room just to be sure nothing was done to her that wasn't in our plan.

Around the time I was newly pregnant with Julia, I had a friend who had just given birth in a hospital. She picked up an infection and ended up very sick (diarrhea, etc) for almost three months while trying to care for her newborn baby and toddler. Hospital germs come from such a "clean" environment that they are often super bugs that are hard to get rid of. I'm not a germaphobe by any means, but having a baby at the same place sick people go started to seem a bit odd to me.

I used to say that my pregnancies were very normal and uncomplicated so that's why I birthed in a hospital. I realized that is the exact reason I should have my babies at home! Interventions can happen so quickly in a hospital, even with an otherwise healthy pregnancy - if you're in labor "too long" or otherwise hit hospital protocol you may be subject to a cascade of unnecessary procedures. Example: Your labor isn't progressing quickly enough, so they break your water. Once the water is broken the clock starts ticking again. If you're still not progressing fast enough you'll need Pitocin, which will require an IV and restrict you to bed. Once you have the IV you end up with an epidural, catheter, and maybe even suction assist to help the baby come out. It seems like these stories happen in one way or another all too often.

I'm not against hospital interventions when necessary, and am thankful that these things exist. It just seems that Pitocin, IVs, epidurals and more have simply become too routine and a doctor wouldn't think twice about using these even during a normal birth. I'm also not saying anything negative about women who choose to use pain relief measures in labor. I'm more talking about those who enter the hospital hoping for a natural birth and are pressured into this series of events because they somehow or another don't fit hospital protocol. In a normal birth, I don't want to end up pressured into anything and it seems like that can quickly happen. On the flip side, if I were in a situation where medical intervention seemed necessary, I would rather have someone who is natural minded helping me consider all of my options.

I learned that midwives are actually prepared to deal with emergency situations and can stabilize both mom and baby while transport is arranged to a hospital if the need arose. The midwife that I am seeing has been in practice for 28 years and has delivered close to 2,000 babies. In my prenatal visits with her she has focused on me and my pregnancy as an individual case. I feel like a normal healthy person, not a medical case to be helped. Yolanda (my midwife) explains what she is doing and why. From checking urine samples to explaining what blood pressure means and why good nutrition is important, I feel like I've learned quite a bit.

When Ross and I first met with Yolanda, I was still a bit nervous about a home birth and thought that Ross would have to be convinced. After we left that meeting I asked him what his reaction was and he simply said "It seems like what we want." I wasn't prepared for him to react like that and it took me a week or so before I actually called Yolanda and told her yes. I've worked through some nervousness along the way, but overall am confident that this is what we want. Ross is very supportive and at this point we are both excited about the home birth.

Some of the things I am looking forward to include:

- No rushing to the hospital while in labor, not having to be lay down and be monitored, no need to strip down and wear an ugly hospital gown, no packing a hospital bag and trying to bring everything along with me.

- Yolanda comes to my house, all I have to do is make the call and then I can hop into the shower or do whatever I want to. I can use my birth ball, stand, sit, use the tub for pain relief, and give birth in any position I choose.

- Having Yolanda there for the birth to guide me a bit rather than a doctor who rushes in just to catch the baby.

- Snuggling in bed with Ross and the baby after the birth. In the hospital, Ross always stayed with me, but he ended up across the room in an uncomfortable chair trying to sleep. I'm looking forward to having him next to me in our own bed.

- No interruptions with doctors and nurses coming in all night long to wake us up. (Although Yolanda does stay and make sure that mom and baby are stable and doing well before she leaves.)

- Not having to be on guard against nurses that might give a bottle or otherwise do something we aren't planning on.

- Welcoming the new baby right into our home rather than bringing it home from the hospital. On a similar note, I don't have to expose my girls to all of the hospital germs in order to visit the new baby. They can meet the baby in the comfort of our home.

Having friends share their home birth experiences with me helped me see that a home birth can be a normal, natural, safe event. I don't intend to say that everyone should have a home birth, but rather just enjoy sharing my experience and thoughts along the way. Hopefully very soon I will be able to share my home birth story with you as well. If anything, let it inspire you and encourage you towards believing that birth is a natural event. If you're interested in reading more about birthing naturally, one of my friends has a great website that includes her birth story and lots of articles she's written on the topic. Check it out here.

On a funny note, Ross' Grandma came over the other day and jokingly said "I thought you might be in the hospital by now." implying that I should be giving birth. The first thought that went through my head was "Hospital? I'm not sick." and then "Oh, yeah, that's where most people go to have babies." Funny how thoughts can change.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

...from our family to yours.

Following and Email Subscribing

I finally added the "Followers" widget to my sidebar, right under my profile! You can click on the "Follow" button and get updates from my blog in your reading list on your Blogger dashboard. There is also a "Follow" button that you can click in the top Blogger bar.

Another new feature is that I added a button so that you can subscribe to my blog via email. I have a couple of my favorite blogs set to email me when they post and I love this feature. I'm hoping its installed correctly, so let me know if there are any bugs or hiccups with it please.

Hopefully these are helpful and allow you to keep up to date with all my postings. You wouldn't want to miss Story Number Three now would you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Story Number Two

You have to read Story Number One first before you read this one!

Lucy's birth was traumatic for me and now that I was pregnant with baby number two, I was torn about what to do. I had learned so much about natural birth and its benefits and knew that it was important for many reasons. I did not want to end up screaming and freaking out for an hour again, so I was debating whether to take natural childbirth classes or sign up right away for an epidural.

I chatted with Jill, the Bradley method instructor, and Amity, one of my La Leche League leaders, and told them my story. Their compassion and understanding went a long way toward helping me feel better about it all. One of things that stood out to me is Jill saying that every birth is different. She suggested that maybe my water wouldn't break again and that might help labor not to be as fast and intense. We decided to go ahead with the Bradley classes knowing that I had to at least try again for a natural birth. I convinced myself that this second time could be different and maybe I could make it through.

The classes were wonderful. I learned so much about nutrition, exercise, and pregnancy. Each class left me feeling more and more like pregnancy was a normal natural event and that my body could do this. Ross felt more prepared this time and learned how to help me relax. Having him attend classes each week helped me to feel very supported. Jill even offered to come to my birth if I was starting to freak out and felt like I needed her there. Ross and I talked about the birth a lot and he was great about building my confidence.

Then... 2 weeks and 2 days before my due date, at 5:00 pm, my water broke. All I could think was "here we go again." I called Jill and told her that my water had broken and we were on our way to the hospital. She was headed to a boy scout event with her kids and told me she would call and check on me later. We called my mother in law to come watch the girls. She didn't believe I was in labor at first because none of us were expecting a baby this soon! From here, things quickly got intense again.

My labor was hard and fast, not at all the different that I had hoped for. Ross was great about helping me through the contractions. I got in the shower for a while, and asked to use the hot tub or birthing ball, but both of those were in use. The crazy thing was that I had not discussed my birth plan with my doctor yet, and we had some things planned that I wasn't sure were going to be okay with the hospital. (We wanted to deny the vitamin K shot, eye ointment, etc.) My doctor was not on call, so I had his partner whom I had never even met. In the middle of my intense labor Ross and I were trying to explain to him that we want to wait to cut the cord and other things about our birth plan. He said that he normally doesn't do that, but was willing. Another funny thing is that I ended up with the same nurse that I had slapped away from me during my last birth. I mentioned something about it to her and said that I would not slap her this time. She was very sweet and when we talked about our birth plan with her to my surprise she was fine with everything on it.

Labor continued to be very intense with contractions coming hard and fast. At one point when things were just too much for me to handle, I told Ross to go ask the nurse if I could just start pushing. To my surprise the nurse checked me and said that yes, I could go ahead and push. Julia was born just three hours after my water had broken. I did not have any drugs or medical interventions other than a tear being stitched up afterwards. When it was all over and Ross and I were enjoying our baby girl, the phone rang in our room. It was Jill calling to check on me. Ross answered the phone and told her I was doing great and asked if she would like to talk to me. I told her that I was holding my new baby girl and that I had succeeded in my goal of having a natural childbirth! She was bummed to have completely missed the birth, but excited for me.

In the end, I'm glad that my second labor was so intense. It was very redeeming to go through almost the same exact scenario as the first time (water breaking at 5:00 pm, intense hard labor, same nurse, etc.) but to have made it through. The Bradley classes and preparation this time around had really helped. I felt much more in control of this birth and was happy with the choices we had made.

My third birth will be different still. We are planning a home birth with a midwife. After denying everything in the hospital, I started to wonder why I even went there to birth at all. I have several friends who have had home births and there is a wonderful midwife here in the area who had delivered almost 2,000 babies over 28 years of practice. I've loved all of my prenatal visits with her and am excited for the birth. Check back in the next couple of weeks for Story Number Three! I'll also be posting more of my thoughts about home birth soon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Muffin Tin Monday

We enjoyed a Christmas themed Muffin Tin Monday today. M and Ms, an orange star, green colored yogurt, a snowman cookie, star cheese, and red and green party pics with lunchmeat on them. Yes, I'm a bit skimpy on the sugar, lol. What can I say, nap time is right after lunch, so I thought that three M and Ms would be plenty! The snowman is an unfrosted sugar cookie - we just never got around to frosting the sugar cookies this year and like them just as well plain. The lunch was thoroughly enjoyed once again!

Smart Mom Jewelry Review and Giveaway

Like I said in my post on Toxins In Toys - Plastics, I'm very picky about the toys my babies have. Our home is not completely free of plastics or toxic toys, but all of the infant toys we own are safe. When we started our toy purge, baby toys were the first to come under scrutiny. Anything that a little one might put in his or her mouth has to be safe! My assortment of baby items includes cloth and wooden toys. I also have a silicone teether, and when my children need a pacifier, we use an all silicone brand. As much as I have researched silicone, I haven't found anything negative about it and feel that for some things, its the safest option. Silicone is a fairly inert substance and does not leach toxins like some plastics do. Aside from baby toys being safe, another thing to think about is the jewelry mom wears that a baby might try to mouth.

Smart Mom Jewelry includes donut shaped necklaces and bangles that are made of silicone. The silicone is non-toxic, latex-free, food-safe, and even dishwasher friendly. They use only the highest quality phthalate-free and federally approved silicone. Smart Mom Jewelry is a safe option for mom to wear and safe for baby to teeth on.

I received a donut shaped pendant and two bangles in coordinating colors to review. They have a great variety of colors, which made it hard to choose! I eventually decided on the turquoise pendant and turquoise and onyx bangles. The jewelry is sturdy and thick, a great size for baby to grasp and teeth on. I like that the necklace has a breakaway clasp so that if baby pulls on it to hard it will release. The necklace would also be very easy to adjust but pulling the cord through the clasp and shortening it, although I left mine long so its easy for a baby to grasp while nursing.

Smart Mom Jewelry has conveniently packaged gift sets, keychains, heart shaped necklaces, or you can even design your own gift set. If you're interested in trying Smart Mom Jewelry for yourself, they've graciously offered one reader a gift set of your choosing. I won't make you go to their website and choose a color, that's just too hard (there are too many fun options). :) Leave a comment on this post and let me know the name of your little one who would enjoy playing with this jewelry while you wear it. Be sure to include your email address so that I can contact a winner.

For an extra entry, become a follower of my blog and let me know you did so/ do so already in a comment. You can gain another entry by blogging about the giveaway including both a link to Smart Mom Jewelry and my blog. Come back here and leave a comment with the link to your blog post.

I'm going to close the giveaway on January 4 at midnight. If you can't wait that long or would like to give Smart Mom Jewelry to someone on your Christmas list, Moonstone pendants are on sale for 50% off this month while supplies last! Happy Shopping.

**Thanks for your interest. The giveaway is now closed and PisecoMom has been chosen by as the winner.**

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Story Number One

With baby number three wiggling away inside of me and planning his or her exit very soon, I thought it would be fun to share my two birth stories with you. The second story is quite different from the first, and this third story will be different yet from the first two. Here is story number one...

When I was pregnant with Lucy, Ross and I prepared by taking the childbirth class at the hospital. Ross had to wear the big 30 lb pregnant mommy belly, we practiced breathing techniques, and learned about all of the hospital procedures. At the class the instructor talked about the possible interventions and had us think about what we would like to avoid and what we felt was important. (things like an epidural, induction, breaking of water, etc) Ross and I both agreed that we did not like the idea of an epidural and wanted to try for a natural childbirth. I was surprised that a few of my friends wanted to sign up ahead of time for an epidural. I had no idea what labor was going to be like, but wanted to at least try it before I begged for drugs. My pregnancy had been very uneventful and normal so far and I thought that labor would be the same.

The day after my due date, at 5:00 pm, my water broke. My parents were visiting from Texas waiting to meet their first grandbaby, and Ross was home from work helping my dad fix a pipe downstairs. My mom yelled down that we had broken water up here and it wasn't a pipe. I had felt the baby kick and felt a pop and ran to the bathroom when water started pouring out of me. It didn't stop. I waddled into the hospital with a big soaking wet beach towel between my legs. I did not feel any contractions until after we were settled in our room and then tried walking around a bit. As soon as the contractions hit, they were hard and fast and furious and all I could do was curl up in the bed. I asked for Stadol, thinking that some pain medication might help me get through without an epidural, but that just made me feel slightly out of it, and in just as much pain.

I ended up asking for an epidural because the contractions were just way too intense and not stopping. I remember looking at the monitor thinking that the contractions couldn't get any harder or closer together, they would spike as high as the monitor could even record and were coming every minute or less. The anesthesiologist was not answering his pager, and I ended up completely freaking out and screaming at the top of my lungs for an hour while I waited for the pain relief. There was nothing Ross or anyone could do. A nurse tried to remind me to breathe and I ended up sort of slapping her away from me. (This is sooo not me if you know me at all...) As soon as I got the epidural I had immediate relief; they turned out the lights and told me to rest.

About an hour later the nurses and doctor came in and told me it was time to push. I was a bit confused as to how they knew this when I myself could feel absolutely nothing. I pushed for 20 minutes and ended up with the suction assist being put on Lucy's head because she kept going back up in between pushes. Eight hours after my water had broken, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was perfectly healthy and I still remember her sweet little face as she looked around and responded to her Daddy's voice. She started to fuss and when he spoke to her she quieted right away.

Although Lucy was perfectly fine, I was traumatized. It took me quite a while to even think that I wanted to ever have another baby. When we did get pregnant with our second baby, I debated long and hard about my birth plans. I had been attending La Leche League and had learned so much about natural childbirth, why it is important, the benefits to mom and baby, etc. At the same time, I didn't want to go through anything like my first birth ever again. I knew of a mom in the group who was a Bradley method instructor and I couldn't decide if I wanted to take classes with her or just sign up ahead of time for an epidural and get it as soon as possible. I knew that it was an important decision and I was torn.

Story Number Two coming soon...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gift for the Grandparents

Lucy and Julia made these canvas paintings for the Grandpas and Grandmas this year. I've seen this idea on several blogs: Chasing Cheerios (but can't find the original post) and here is another tutorial. I bought a couple of canvases at Hobby Lobby and we used tempra paint like this. The girls use their paintbrushes and covered the canvases in paint. Once they were done I pressed each of their hands into the paint and lifted it up. I think these make adorable keepsakes! We did a set for each of the Grandparents and I'm planning to put a set above the baby's changing table. I might even make a canvas using the new baby's footprints as well. Do you have other fun homemade Christmas gift ideas to share?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun With Fleece

Joann's had fleece on sale for $4 a yard. I bought 1/2 a yard ($2) and made scarves for Lucy and Julia, scarves for Tozy and Calin (the dolls), and blankets for the dollhouse beds. Fleece doesn't fray so all you have to do is cut it to size. For the scarves I cut fringe and then tied knots in each one. Easy and fun!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chicken Soup

As promised, here is a tutorial on making chicken stock and chicken soup. This was one of the last things I wanted to have in the freezer before baby comes. We love this soup and its great to have the stock in the freezer all ready to go.

First, buy a whole chicken. Wash it off and chop it up a bit. I usually cut mine in half and cut off the legs and wings. It doesn't matter how you do this, just fit it into a large soup pot. Add some onion, carrots, and celery - just break the veggies into chunks, don't worry about chopping them all up. Cover with filtered water and a splash of rice vinegar. Let this all sit for about an hour to help draw out the nutrients. Heat to a boil briefly and then cover and turn down to simmer for an hour and a half.

Use a pair of tongs to take out all of the chicken, leaving everything else still cooking in the pot. The meat will easily fall off of the bones. Put the bones, skin, and everything back into the pot (still cooking) and put all of the meat in a container. In the above photo I'm almost done: a few bones left on the plate, good chicken meat in the container, and bones back in the pot to cook some more. Cover the pot and let it simmer as long as you'd like. I started this stock in the morning and let it simmer all day until dinner time. (Put the cooked chicken in the refrigerator.)

When your stock is finished cooking, use a strainer to scoop out the bones and veggies, dumping them into the trash. After I scoop out the big chunks, I use a canning jar funnel with a strainer on top and ladle the broth into the jars through the strainer, leaving 3-4 inches at the top. I got about 4 big jars of broth, and some left in the pot to make a batch of soup for supper. (Be sure to strain this as well to get any little bone pieces out.) Leave the jars on the counter to cool, then refrigerate them overnight before freezing. I sometimes divide up the meat and put it right into the jars with the chicken stock. This time the jars were rather full so I didn't have room to add the meat. I'm going to divide the meat into small bags and freeze it along with the stock.

When I want to make soup I'll pull out a jar of stock and a bag of meat all ready to go. Add to the soup pot:

chopped onion
minced garlic (2-3 cloves, more if we're sick) - stir fry for a few minutes
chopped carrots
chopped celery
chicken stock and meat from freezer
a large carton of chicken broth
a teaspoon or two of chicken bouillon
a pinch or two of sugar (my Dad's secret ingredient)
noodles (we like the homemade style, like this) or rice

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 20 minutes (or longer if you're using brown rice).
Enjoy! The stock makes this soup extra nutritious and tasty. I've read that some people make this type of stock once a week and use the meat in casseroles and dishes and use the stock for liquid in cooking rice, steaming veggies, and more. Give it a try!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pampered Pregnancy (Review and Giveaway)

belly shot - 35 weeks!

I normally do not pamper myself much at all. My usual attire includes jeans, a ponytail, and no make-up. I rarely take time for a leisurely bath or use lotions. During pregnancy though, my aches and pains force me to pay attention to pampering myself a bit. I'm very picky about the body care products I use, especially when pregnant, and I look up everything in the Skin Deep database.

When I was pregnant with Julia, I purchased some Earth Mama Angel Baby products to use for the postpartum period. I used the bottom balm, new mama bottom spray, and postpartum bath herbs. I absolutely loved these and felt like the products were very effective and helped ease my discomfort. This time around, I had more of the Earth Mama Angel Baby products on my wish list to try out. A sweet mama that I met online runs a website called Shalom Beginnings and offered to help me out with a discount, some products in exchange for this review, and even a giveaway for my readers!

Nina runs Shalom Beginnings working from home with her three small children (and one on the way very soon). She sells cloth diapers, baby carriers, baby and mom body care products, and herbs and teas, all with a focus on offering affordable yet high quality items. Shipping is only $2.50 and Nina is great about replying to emails and helping customers find what they need.

I completely stocked up on Earth Mama Angel Baby products! Some to use during pregnancy, some to use for postpartum healing, and some to use on my sweet new baby when he or she arrives. I love that these products are rated zero in the Skin Deep database - the best rating possible. We had been using quite a few Burt's Bees products, but they didn't rate zero and had too much fragrance for my liking after a while.

I tested out the Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash on the girls the other day and really liked it. The wash smells like a mix of orange and vanilla, but not too strong. I also got the lotion, baby bottom balm, and diaper rash soap. I like that it all has such a sweet smell, but no added "fragrance". You can read all of the ingredients for each product right on the Earth Mama Angel Baby website.

I've been using the Natural Stretch Oil on my belly. It soaks in nicely and has a light scent to it. I could almost do without the scent, but its not bad. I can't really tell you if its helping prevent stretch marks or not, but I'm sure it helps at least a bit. I have the Happy Feet foot soak, it just sounded so nice for pregnant sore feet, especially near the end of pregnancy. Also the Third Trimester Tea - I'm actually not a big tea fan at all but I've been drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (RRL) on my midwife's recommendation. This tea has RRL and lots of other good ingredients to help prepare my body for labor and nourish it. Especially in these last few weeks drinking the tea helps my body store up the nutrients it needs for birth. I do feel like the RRL tea has helped with muscle pains and cramping, I haven't had much at all this time and it goes away when I drink my tea regularly. Shalom Beginnings also sells packets of just RRL tea.

For postpartum use, I got more of the Mama Bottom Balm (loved this last time!), New Mama Bottom Spray, and the Natural Nipple Butter. I love that these contain all natural ingredients and herbal formulations to help heal and restore my body. I've become a big believer in natural remedies and herbs and found them to be very effective. The witch hazel, calendula, and other ingredients in these products are very soothing. I haven't used the nipple butter yet, but my girls both had trouble nursing in the beginning and made me pretty sore. Lanolin was ok, but kind of sticky and harsh, this sounds like it will work a bit better.

Nina at Shalom Beginnings also created her own herbal bath tea that she sent me. I have used it a few times and it was very soothing and great for achy pregnant muscles. The bath tea contains calendula, chickweed, chamomile, lavender, oatmeal, and plantain. It doesn't have a strong scent, but does smell nice. It comes with a little muslin bag that you steep like tea and then pour into your bath. I let it swirl around in the tub and then squished the bag a bit to help it release the nutrients.

After saying I am not big on pampering myself - I just might be transformed. I feel better about myself and am a much less crabby mom when I take care of my aches and pains and have natural herbal products on hand to use. I recommend giving any of these products a try.

Shalom Beginnings is offering one reader a 2 oz Angel Baby Bottom Balm, a 5.3 oz Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash, and a packet of herbal bath tea. To enter the giveaway take a look at Shalom Beginnings website and let me know something they sell that you're interested in. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment so that I have a way to contact you. For another entry become a follower of my blog and let me know that in another comment. If you'd like a third entry, blog about this giveaway, linking to both my blog and Shalom Beginnings and then come back and leave me a link to your post. I'll close the giveaway on January 1st at midnight.

**The giveaway is now closed and chose Amanda as the winner. Thanks for your interest.**

Friday, December 11, 2009

Toxins In Toys: Plastics

This month I've been posting about Toxins In Toys and some of the changes our family has made over the past few years. We've talked about lead and where it hides. Today I want to focus on plastics a bit. There are several potential issues with plastic toys - Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, PVC, and more.

Bisphenol A is an endocrine disrupting hormone - a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxin. Very low doses of BPA exposure have been linked to cancers, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity among other problems. Exposure to BPA is widespread - it has been found in the urine of 95% of people tested in studies. Alarmingly, the median level of BPA in humans is higher than the level that causes adverse effects in animal studies. (information from an Environment California report)

Bisphenol A is found in hard clear plastics and has been in the news quite a bit for its presence in baby bottles, sippy cups, and the lining of canned foods. BPA can also be found in many toys including teethers and toys that infants may mouth. Although many newer toys are BPA free, anything you already have or purchase used should be suspect. We had to toss some rattles (things with the clear hard plastic parts on them) and baby toys that had BPA in them. I also have to wonder, even if plastic toys are now marketed as BPA free, what do they contain instead?

Phthalates are a human carcinogen, added to soft plastics to keep them pliable. Think teethers, bath toys, vinyl books... PVC often contains lead and phthalates and is the least recyclable plastic posing numerous health and environmental concerns. Phthalates in children's products are being phased out due to the CPSIA regulations.

Although the new CPSIA laws are aimed at making toys safer for children, the bottom line is that so many times I look at a toy and just don't know what's in it. Honestly there have been stays of enforcement on the CPSIA laws and I can't quite figure out which thing is banned and when. Many manufacturers are also selling off old products that will no longer be safe at a certain point when laws go into effect, but are okay to be sold now. Have you noticed the rubber ducks everywhere, packaged in with other toys and gift baskets? I got an Oriental Trading Company catalog recently and they had an enormous lot of rubber duckies for some insanely cheap price. No thanks.

I can go to the effort to contact every manufacturer (and I have quite often done so) and figure out whether or not my particular toy contains BPA, phthalates, or PVC, but more and more we are simply choosing natural toys that we know are safe. Toys are not labeled "contains BPA", nor are they required to be. Manufacturers aren't required to tell you what is in a toy and will sometimes reply to an inquiry with something along the lines of claiming that their toy doesn't leach BPA, or is non-toxic, or is compliant with government regulations at this time. Wording meant to creatively skirt the questions.

Plastics are petroleum based and are filling up our landfills and oceans. They are rarely recyclable and often break easily. Natural toys are much more durable, and often more open ended in their play options (no batteries, flashing lights, etc). Although natural toys can be more expensive, we have been focusing on purchasing one high quality item instead of several inexpensive toys that won't last long. Our house is small as it is, so limiting what comes into our home is a necessity. We do have some plastics - Lego is a reputable brand and uses a safer type of plastic, Green Toys uses recycled milk jugs to make their sturdy toys, and yes, we do have some (toxic) Little People just because the girls love to play with them. I have a basket of baby toys and these are all natural wooden or cloth toys. Here is a great article about natural toys.

As far as toy safety, I purchase toys from manufacturers that I trust. I don't necessarily trust the "natural" toys that are popping up at large retail stores. Just because something is made of wood doesn't make it safe. What type of glue holds it together? What type of paint is used on it? I look for a water based stain that shows the wood grain rather than a thick coating of paint that could be toxic or peel off. Things like art supplies, music, and books can still be purchased at super stores. Try thinking outside the box and invest in a zoo membership, aquatic center pass, museum gift certificate, or make a coupon book of visits to the park. The saying is true - homemade gifts are often the best. I've posted a few ideas for homemade toys on my blog and you can find more by searching the internet.

I hope this gets you started thinking about safe toy choices for your families. I have a couple more reviews and discount codes coming up, so stay tuned!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

aden + anais Discount Code

Hope you're enjoying the holidays! aden + anais has decided to get in the spirit of things too by giving customers 15% off all purchases made from their website between December 3rd and 18th. Just use the coupon code "celebrate" to save some cash.

We reviewed an aden + anais sleeping bag recently and I'm looking forward to using it with the new baby. I also have the swaddling blankets and will be posting a review for those once the baby comes. Without giving away the review ahead of time, I think these are going to be my new favorite baby gift, they are so soft and big and nice. Enjoy shopping with the discount code!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Star Bright Kids Company - Review and Discount Code

This month we're focusing on Toxins In Toys - what some of the dangers are and how to choose safer toys for your families. In our quest for high quality natural toys we've come across some great toy companies. Star Bright Kids Company is one of them! They carry a great selection and focus on natural, educational, eco-friendly, and European toys. You can read more here about how they select the products that they carry. They require safety statements from all of their vendors and are thoughtful about what they choose to sell. You can see those statements and information about each of the brands they sell here. Browsing the Star Bright Kids Company website, I saw quite a few of the toys that we own (and love).

Lucy and Julia got to review the Beleduc Moringa Lacing Tree. I chose this toy because of the creative possibilities it offers. Lucy is very into puzzles and is great at them, but something like this where the pieces don't have an exact spot challenges her thinking a bit. She has had some practice with regular lacing cards, so already knew the basic idea of how to "sew" the pieces on. With some help, Julia figured it out as well. Here the girls are showing Grandpa and Grandma their new toy:

The lacing tree comes with two long strings, so both girls were able to play at the same time. The strings have a little wooden knob on one end - whoever thought of that is a genius (or a mom)! I'm always putting a bead on one end or tying knots in strings for the girls, but these are all ready to go. The pieces are adorable and include a bird's nest, mommy bird, squirrel, fox, butterflies, lots of leaves, and more. Here is their finished product:

And a closer look (the pile at the top was Julia's hard work):

Lucy, Julia and I give this fun toy two thumbs up! If you're interested in shopping for this or any of the other wonderful things that Star Bright Kids Company carries, they've given us a discount code good for 10% off your order. The code is "IAEP68HB" and is good through 1/31/2010. Thanks Star Bright Kids Company!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Amby Baby Hammock - Recall

If you haven't already heard, there is a huge recall of more than 2.1 million drop side cribs made by Stork Craft. The frustrating part about it is that there were 110 incidents including 4 deaths and these cribs have been manufactured since 1993. I'm not sure why they weren't recalled sooner. Please check your crib asap if you think it may be involved in this recall.

I have recently become aware that Amby Baby Hammocks may be under investigation by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. There are some posts on a few different message boards saying that several infants have died of suffocation in the Amby bed. I have been trying to find out more about this and don't have any other concrete information to offer at the moment, but I don't want to be a part of the silence. Sometime in mid October, the Amby website had a notice posted that they were not currently shipping any product. Their store was open, but you couldn't add anything to a shopping cart. There was no explanation as to why. Now, the Amby website is completely gone. There is a website up, but it is for Australia.

We purchased an Amby bed off of Craigslist to use with our new baby in January, so I'm obviously very concerned about this issue. I'll let you know what I find out. So far I have contacted someone at Amby that I had an email address for, the CPSC by phone and email, the JPMA by email and phone, and have searched the Better Business Bureau for information. I also contacted Dr Sears because he has endorsed the product in the past. None of these contacts have responded to me, but I'm not done pursuing the matter. A consumer research blog that I read, Z Recommends, is also looking into the issue and will post soon with what they've found out.

UPDATE: None of my contacts responded to inquiries I made, but today the CPSC has issued a recall that you can read here. The Amby website is back up with a note about the recall and a form to sign up for a repair kit to be issued some time in January. If you have an Amby, stop using it immediately. I'm changing the date on this post from 11/25 to 12/7 to move it back up to the top of my blog for now.

My Father's World K - Us Unit (The Five Senses)

This unit took us a while to finish because of Thanksgiving break in there and a few other days that we just didn't get to our schoolwork. I'm not in a hurry to rush through the curriculum since Lucy is only 4 1/2, but we are trying to keep going for now since we'll likely have some breaks when the baby comes in January.

Some fun things we did - played with playdough (for sense of touch), made a tambourine (for hearing sense), smelled some foods with our eyes shut (onion, lemon juice, pumpkin pie spice), and played “what’s missing?” (sight). I lined up five little people and took one away while the girls had their eyes shut. Lucy was great at knowing which one was missing, even if I mixed them up. Julia will randomly go up to a pile of little people now and grab one and say “which one is missing?” to me. They had fun talking and thinking about the different senses and when they use them. (They would say “We’re tasting this apple.” etc.)

Books We Read:

My Five Senses by Aliki

How Kids Grow by Jean Marzollo

Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault

All About Sound by David Knight

Hearing by Lillian Wright

Seeing by Lillian Wright

What’s Inside You by Susan Meredith

Usborne First Encyclopedia of Science

On The Move by Deborah Heiligman

Inside Your Outside by Tish Rabe

We're also enjoying reading Haffertee Hamster Diamond - a series of books that my mom read to me when I was little. The chapters are not too long and both girls look forward to this. The stories are all about a little stuffed hamster and his adventures in the Diamond family household. The books aren't in print, but can be found used on amazon.

Lucy’s Favorite Part:

Doing my math page. Where you pick a number and then you draw how many. My really favorite is doing my handwriting page, I like that one.” She’s also really been proud of learning to read simple words lately.

My Father's World K - Turtle Unit

Still catching up here...

For the turtle unit, we enjoyed painting a paper plate to make into a turtle, reading books on perseverance, and making tortoise and hare puppets. I drew simple turtle and rabbit figures and Lucy colored, cut them out, and glued them on popsicle sticks. We used them while reading The Tortoise and The Hare story. For a tactile letter activity, I used pieces of an alphabet puzzle and put one under a playsilk. Lucy had to feel it and guess which letter it was. She actually did really well and had fun with the game. painting to music - We also spent time working on some Christmas gifts that we've been making (I'll post them soon!).

For our books, we had success again just raiding the library of all the books in the "turtle" section. We read:

Reptiles and Amphibians of Michigan Field Guide by Stan Tekiela

DK Watch Me Grow Turtle by Lisa Magloff (shows mating, not sure if we're ready for that)

Turtles by Anita Baskin-Salzberg and Allen Salzberg (good photos)

Turtles Life In a Shell by Sara Swan Miller

Turtles by Julie Murray (good simple info book)

All About Turtles by Jim Arnosky (good info book)

Sea Turtles by Gail Gibbons

Turtles In My Sandbox by Jennifer Keats Curtis

Turtle Crossing by Rick Chrustowski (good)

Scoot! by Cathryn Falwell (cute)

Many of my extra ideas come from things people share on the My Father's World message board. There is a section for K, and a section for each unit where people list ideas and post links to things they find helpful. If you're using My Father's World, or just want fun ideas on one of the topics, be sure to check this out.

My Father's World K - Nest Unit

Its been awhile since I've posted our My Father's World Kindergarten fun. Partly because we've slowed down a bit, and partly because I just haven't taken the time to write it up. We finished "Nest", "Turtle", "Us", and are just starting "Dinosaurs" this week. Lucy is still loving it! Over Thanksgiving weekend, on Friday she asked me what day it was. I told her it was Friday and she said "Oh, good! I was going to be sad if you said it was Saturday or Sunday because I can't do my school on those days." I hadn't planned on doing schoolwork that day because of the holidays, but ended up pulling out a workbook for her because she had to do something. I'm glad she enjoys it.

Grandpa and Grandma found a bird nest that we got a chance to look at up close! (see photo in post below). Because all of the leaves are off of the trees, we have been able to see lots of nests in the trees as we drive places in the car. One day we made Rice Krispie treat nests (regular recipe shaped into nests) and put m and m eggs inside. A few other things I printed off for Lucy:

an animal homes matching game she colored and cut then I laminated
an animal homes mini book to color
color and cut out nest page

My girls love learning about birds, looking at the bird book Grandpa made for them, and watching the birds outside that come to our bird feeders. The books that we read focused on all kinds of animal homes:

Can It Live Here? by Jennifer Gillis
Peaceful Moments In the Wild: Animals and Their Homes
Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest by Irene Kelly
Birds Build Nests by Yvonne Winer (great book)
A Nest Full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz Jenkins (another great book)
Nature Files Animal Homes by Anita Ganeri
(We've had good success just going to the library and typing in "nest", "turtle", etc to the computer system and then pulling a few books from the section indicated.)

Coming soon... "turtle", and "us". :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nesting: Filling the Freezer

I much prefer posts with pictures, so here's a photo of a nest that Grandpa and Grandma found recently and brought over to show the girls. I'm in full "nesting" mode lately (in between naps). One thing I've been trying to do is stock up my freezer as much as possible. We have a chest freezer that we didn't have when either of the girls were babies, so this is my first time really stocking it with meals.

An easy way to fill the freezer is to simply make double of anything you are cooking that can be frozen. We've been eating easy meals lately like spaghetti or eggs and toast which don't really need to be frozen. When I do have something on the menu like chili, soup, or a casserole, its simple enough to double it and freeze half. If I'm making a 9x13 casserole, I can either make two full pans, or make two 8x8s from the one recipe. We like having lots of leftovers, so I usually do two full pans and freeze one.

For a casserole type dish, I sometimes use disposable foil pans (that I wash and reuse). I also have a few extra glass pans that I've collected; these get covered with plastic wrap and then foil on top of that. Chili or chicken pot pie filling goes in a plastic freezer bag (after the food is cooled off). I also use canning jars and plastic lids for freezing things in. Remember to label your dishes with what's inside, the date, and simple baking instructions (350 for 35 minutes, etc). I also find it helpful to keep a list on the refrigerator door of what I currently have in the freezer.

Our freezer was already a bit full with blueberries, strawberries, diced tomatoes, and other summer produce, but I did manage to fit some meals in. If you're looking for ideas, here's what I have frozen so far:

tofu pasta shells - tofu, spinach, and lots of cheese stuffed in jumbo pasta shells and covered with spaghetti sauce and more cheese
taco meat
cooked ground meat - I do this all the time, brown a pound of meat and then only use half of it for spaghetti and freeze the other half
chicken pot pie - freeze the filling and a shell, assemble and bake when needed
frozen pizzas from the grocery store (shhhh...)
a couple kinds of muffins
black beans - rehydrate and cook the beans and then portion out and freeze
freezer jam - this is very easy to make and the girls love it
a few casseroles my mother in law brought over
extra bread dough

I still need to make another batch of chicken stock. I divide the stock into large canning jars and put the meat right in there with the broth so that when I make soup I just have to add the veggies, noodles, and some more broth. One chicken makes 4 or 5 jars and I use those to make a large pot of soup so it goes a long way. I'll have to blog about this next time I do it, it makes the best soup.

Anything else that I cook in the next few weeks will probably get doubled and frozen if I can find the room to stuff it in there. I also freeze things like cookies, granola bars, pancakes, etc. Even after the baby comes I'll continue doubling meals and freezing them just because its nice to have something ready to go for those days I don't feel like cooking. In the summer this doesn't work as well because we eat more salads and fresh veggies, but winter foods seem to freeze well. Its also nice to have a freezer meal on hand to take to a friend if a need arises.

Do you have any other freezer tips to share? Favorite freezer meals? Ways to package frozen dishes for the freezer? Please share!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Teach Me Tapes (Review and Discount Code)

We are using Teach Me Spanish as our foreign language homeschool curriculum this year. I've listened to numerous bad cds, watched many bad dvds, and finally came across Teach Me Spanish. I've honestly not found anything that compares to it as far as teaching young children a foreign language. I was surprised that in spite of all of the research about children picking up a language easily at a young age, it was so hard to find something. I'm very happy that we came across Teach Me Spanish though; we love it!

Teach Me... offers a series of engaging books with CDs that introduce children to new languages through familiar songs and stories. Along with Spanish, they offer a variety of other languages as well. Someone on a homeschool message board recommended the Teach Me series to me and I first checked out the CDs from our local library. Lucy and Julia were both engaged in the lively familiar music and I was impressed with the quality. We have since purchased the CDs and have been using them as part of our Spanish language learning. (The other part consists of watching Dora DVDs. Really, they have picked up quite a few new words from Dora and we don't watch TV otherwise.)

The Teach Me Spanish CDs have a fun selection of familiar songs sung in Spanish and English, as well as short narrative sections in Spanish. I like that the narration is included because the girls get to hear a person actually speaking the language rather than just a word or two from Dora. They don't understand it at this point and I haven't translated much of it for them, but I do like that they are hearing it. There is an English translation included in the accompanying book. The songs are popular children's songs (Old MacDonald, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Oats and Beans and Barley, etc) so once the Spanish versions get stuck in your head, you end up learning quite a bit.

We have the older versions of Teach Me Spanish, but recently had a chance to review one of the new Teach Me Everyday Spanish books and CD, as well as the Christmas book and CD, Feliz Navidad: Learning Songs and Traditions in Spanish. I really like the updated format - a hardcover book with full color illustrations and translations. The pictures are well done and the translations are easy to read. Each book of course includes the music CD that goes along with it.

The Christmas book and CD is also very well done. I think it will be wonderful to pull this out every year and listen to it. There are classic Christmas songs, as well as traditional Spanish songs and stories included. At the back of the book you will even find a couple of fun recipes to try. For now, my girls are just interested in the music, but as they get older we'll dive more into the cultural aspect - making the recipes, reading the stories included, etc. When I put the music CD on, the girls both immediately grabbed a stuffed monkey (their usual dancing partners) and started dancing around.

As far as purchasing a foreign language curriculum, the Teach Me series is well priced - $15 to $20 for a book and CD. You can start with one book and purchase more as you go. If you are interested in purchasing something, Teach Me Tapes is offering a discount code. Use the code "FF09L" for 20% off and free shipping! I highly recommend taking advantage of this great offer. Thanks, Teach Me Tapes!

See here for more homeschool curriculum reviews.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fairies and Gnomes

Because of all that we've been learning about toxins in toys, as a family we're very picky about the toys that we choose for our girls. Some of our favorite toys are made of natural materials such as unfinished wood or stuffed with wool. One of the blogs I read, Z Recommends, just posted today about a Canadian recall of several Melissa and Doug toys for paint containing toxins (barium). These items are not recalled in the US, and may not ever be, but they do contain barium. You can read the whole story here. In looking at paint on a toy, I tend to choose water based stains (you can see the wood grain through the paint) or completely unpainted toys. If wood is unfinished, it is simple enough to rub a coat of beeswax on for a bit of protection. These wooden animals that we made for the girls have beeswax on them and they have held up well. In the photo above, Lucy and Julia are playing with some wonderful natural toys that we received from A Toy Garden for review.

The gnome house is such a neat toy. I like that it can be used in so many different ways: as a cave for animals, a stable, a house for gnomes, and I suppose - a bedroom for tired fairies and gnomes...

The gnome house bends, but doesn't completely fold up. Julia kept trying to bend it too far and it held up to her doing so (of course while I'm telling her not to). It is made of pine, and is 19 inches long. I'm sure this will get lots of use in our house because it is so versatile and can be added to any play scene. This comes unfinished, I am planning to add some beeswax to it, just haven't done that yet.

The girls very quickly decided that the gnomes were a mom and baby pair since one gnome is smaller than the other. The gnomes are often sleepy, but do like to join the dollhouse dolls around the table for food or fly with the fairies. They have the cutest wool felt capes and hats which haven't come off even though they have been played with quite a bit. These gnomes would make great stocking stuffers and come in various fun colors. Of course they are the perfect size for the gnome house.

We also received two beautiful fairy dolls. These are 5 inches tall (about the same size as our Plan Toys dollhouse dolls), have cotton dresses, tulle wings, and are stuffed with wool. These fairies are very well made, soft, and slightly bendable.

The fairies have been flying around our house ever since we received them. Lucy and Julia love to make them "fly" and run around with them. They are a bit big to fit through the holes in the gnome house but are a good size for our dollhouse, and are frequent visitors. Their bodies are well sewn and their wool stuffing makes them nice to hold. Their arms and legs are bendy, so they can sit down. The fairy doll is a bit pricey, but is definitely a quality well made item that will last.

A funny side note: while flying her fairy around the house, Lucy said "Follow me, yelled the fairy!". She's continued with that kind of talk while playing recently: "Lets go, said the gnome.", "I'm tired, cried the baby", etc. I think its rather funny, and must be because we read so many books around here. She doesn't watch much television to see and hear characters speaking in first person, just hears about them in "book language".

If you'd like to go shopping at A Toy Garden for these or other fun things I've reviewed in the past (here and here), Sonya has given us a discount code. Act quickly because this expires on the 10th of December. "littleword5off" will get you $5 off of a purchase of $50 or more. A Toy Garden has a great selection of natural and handmade toys that would be great choice for Christmas gift giving.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Math (Muffin) Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday is always something to look forward to around here. There wasn't a theme today so I stole an idea from someone, but I'm not sure who. Each week I click through the links posted and get lots of great ideas; if this was your idea - Thanks!

I filled a tin with snacks - craisins, frozen blueberries, cheese pieces, pretzels, ducks, and marshmallows for a special treat. The girls had to roll a die and then choose that number of snacks from one of the tins. It was good counting practice and even Julia did very well with it. They stayed interested in this and took turning rolling the die and snacking until the tin was almost cleaned out. (Of course the marshmallows disappeared first.) I'd been looking for fun math ideas to add to our homeschooling days, and this was a great one. Check out Her Cup Overfloweth for more Muffin Tin Monday fun.