Friday, May 29, 2009

Nursing Necessities (and a Giveaway!)

**Giveaway is now closed.  Thanks for all the interest.  I used and have contacted the winner - Nichole Alvarado.**

I've seen a few posts like this recently that have inspired me to write my own breastfeeding essentials list.  I'm a huge proponent of breastfeeding, but I won't get into all of the benefits right now.  Some of my favorites though are 1) that breastfeeding helps protect both mother and baby from certain types of cancer and 2) the unique properties of breastmilk, including that it produces antibodies specific to illnesses your baby picks up.  There are so many more great reasons to breastfeed- the money saved by not purchasing formula is enough to buy yourself a new appliance every six months.  Even if you can't convince your hubby to buy you a new dishwasher, go ahead and pamper yourself with some of these breastfeeding items.  In no particular order, here is my list of nursing necessities...

1) Books - I enjoyed reading a book during those many late night nursing sessions when no one else was awake but me and the baby.  Some of my favorites are-  Let The Baby Drive (wonderful book written by a mom learning to trust her baby and relax as a parent), The Breastfeeding Cafe (collection of short stories of mothers who were determined to breastfeed and succeeded - very inspiring) and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (great go-to book with information in an easy to read format).

2) Websites - If I wasn't reading a book, I was browsing the internet one-handed while nursing my little one. is a great website full of breastfeeding information in a easy to use format.  La Leche League also has a website where you can find breastfeeding help or information on where your local group meets.  Here are some video clips of babies latching on which are extremely helpful to see.

3) Support - I first attended my local La Leche League group when Lucy was 3 months old, and I've been going ever since.  I found a wealth of support and knowledge here that has been invaluable to me.  I love that I can bring my children with me to meetings and some of the moms from La Leche League have become my best friends!  I only wish I'd started attending meetings while pregnant.  LLL leaders are available by phone or email to answer any breastfeeding questions you have.  Don't hesitate to give them a call, they are volunteers who enjoy helping moms and have gone through an extensive training process with LLL.  Find your local group here.

4) Pain Relief - If you experience discomfort in the beginning, see a lactation consultant or call your LLL leader.  A few things that can help are: using lanolin or coconut oil to moisturize your sore nipples; if you are really sore you can use Second Skin Moist Burn Pads, they are similar to the Soothies gel pads made for breastfeeding, but I find that the burn pads work better.  Hopefully you won't need to use these, and like I said, if you're sore, contact a LLL leader right away, its often something that can easily be fixed by adjusting the baby's latch just a bit.  

5) Nursing Station - Make a nursing station next to your favorite nursing chair.  Include things like a water bottle, granola bars or other handy snacks for mom, the telephone, books to read, toys for older kids to play with, diapers and wipes, ... everything that you can think of so that once you are settled you have what you need.  You don't have to nurse in a chair all the time either - put a toddler bed rail on the side of your bed so that you can bring baby to bed with you and nurse laying down.  You'll feel much more rested if you aren't getting up all night long and baby is close to you free to nurse when he needs to.  

6) Pump and Bottles - With my first daughter I had an Avent hand pump and a few bottles, which I've since found out contain Bisphenol-A.  I only used it a handful of times and my second daughter I don't think ever had a bottle.  I prefer to keep my babies with me all the time so I don't need to pump often, but I like having one available.  Medela and Lansinoh both make pumps and bottles that are BPA free and made of polypropylene.  Avent makes a BPA free bottle now, but I'm not sure what type of plastic it is and whether or not the pump still contains BPA.  Medela clearly says that their products are BPA free and has a press release right on their home page about the issue.  Their Harmony manual breast pump looks like a good choice.

7) Nursing Bra - My nursing bras came from Target.  I had a hard time finding nursing bras without underwire in them.  Underwire can actually cause plugged ducts by rubbing and putting pressure on the breast and is not recommended.  Try on several different nursing bras and find a good fit and then buy several.  

8) Breast Pads - I used disposable nursing pads in the beginning because reusable pads just wouldn't hold up to all my leaking.  After the leaking slowed down, I LOVE Lana wool nursing pads.  They sound scratchy, but they are really sooo much softer than the paper disposables.  I still wear these every day.  

9) Nursing Clothes - My main nursing wardrobe consists of nursing tank top/ bras that I wear under all my shirts.  This works well in the winter to wear the tank with a light long sleeve shirt over top of it.  In the summer the two layers can get a bit hot.  I've tried nursing shirts from Expressiva with some success, but they still have the two layers in them and I can't seem to get the right fit with their clothes.  I've recently tried Boob Nursing Wear and am impressed!  The opening is unique and doesn't require the shirt to have a heavy layer underneath.  I'll be posting a review of their nursing line in a few days here.  

10) Nursing Necklace - Every nursing mom should have one of these!  At a certain age, nursing babies can get very distractible and refuse to stay on the breast, or pinch and scratch mom while nursing.  A nursing necklace is a colorful safe necklace that baby can play with while nursing to keep him interested and happily nursing.  Lucy and Julia both had their own Simply Snazzy necklace that is a cherished keepsake.  I also have several nursing necklaces in various colors so that I can slip one on to match whatever I'm wearing.  

Mommy Necklaces are actually made by a friend of mine and she has offered one as a giveaway to a reader of my blog.  I have Meadow in Dangling Donut style to give to one lucky reader!  Mommy Necklaces are tested for lead and phthalates as required by CPSIA and are extremely well constructed and safe.  They have a special break away clasp that will pop apart if your baby pulls too hard on the necklace.  Check out the safety information here.  Mommy Necklaces are gorgeous and you will want one in every color.  Raelynn is a stay at home mom and breastfed both of her children.  She enjoys helping mothers succeed at breastfeeding through using nursing necklaces.  

If you'd like to win the Meadow nursing necklace, leave a comment on this post.  You MUST include your email address in the comment or have it available on your blogger profile for me to be able to contact you.  For an additional entry, subscribe to my blog in whichever way you choose and let me know that you do so in a separate comment.  I'll leave this open for two weeks and choose a winner on June 14th.  Thanks for stopping by!

Surviving Early Pregnancy

I recently posted about our Mother's Day gifts to the Grandmas.  Their other surprise was that we told our families on Mother's Day that we are expecting baby #3 in January.  Everyone was thrilled!  We told Lucy and Julia the night before we shared the news with extended family; Lucy hugged my stomach and is excited that as the baby grows she can talk to him or her.  She's already planning on helping me take care of the baby.  Julia points to my stomach and says "baby" but she's not quite sure what is going on yet.  I've been feeling nauseous off and on, but nothing too horrible.  Here is how I'm surviving early pregnancy...

1) Food:  When we started trying to get pregnant I made double batches of food as often as I could and put them in the freezer.  I had muffins, cookies, zucchini bread, cooked ground meat, chopped onions, and half a dozen meals frozen.  Its actually quite easy to make a double batch of something if you are already going to be cooking.  I'll admit that the food in the freezer hasn't sounded good to me yet, but I'm sure it will come in handy once I get my appetite back a bit.  We'll use this food up during the pregnancy and then stock the freezer again for after baby arrives.

2) Sleep.  I've been sleeping with Julia when she naps.  Lucy knows that she has to color or read books quietly and although she does end up waking me up some days, I do get some napping time in.  My body is working hard creating this little baby so I don't feel bad about taking naps!

3) Housework.  I have to say that my dear husband has been a wonderful help in this area.  When I'm feeling nauseous and all I can do is get the girls their meals and get the food put away, he's great about washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom when he has spare time.  I have a magnet on my fridge with a simple cleaning schedule that I try to follow when I get overwhelmed with a messy house -

4) Nausea remedies.  In the beginning I was trying to eat protein as much as I could and it did seem to help.  The food didn't sound good to me at the time, but once I ate it, I did feel relief from the nausea.  (eggs, peanut butter toast, cheese toast, almonds, etc)  At this point my stomach is very queasy and I just have to eat whatever sounds ok to me at the time.  I'm going to try some of the remedies I've seen - B6 vitamins, calcium, and other things.  I'll share anything I find that works.

Don't worry, I love blogging and although I've taken a bit of a break here, I have plenty of fun posts (including giveaways) lined up for the coming days!  

Monday, May 25, 2009


We planted our garden today.  This used to be a horrible patch of ivy that took quite a bit of work to pull out.  We built the raised bed with some wood we already had and brought in some good dirt.  There are marigolds all around the edges to keep out the rabbits who live nearby - lets hope that works.  This is actually our first garden attempt, other than growing tomatoes and a few herbs in pots.  We planted onions, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes (heirloom, cherry, and patio), basil, peppermint, and cilantro.  More tomatoes will go in pots, some zucchini squash are in another part of the yard, and we have strawberry plants too!  I still have to buy some jalapeno peppers, garlic, and a few more lavender bushes for the front landscaping.  Lucy loved picking the little ripe tomatoes from our plants last year and eating them right away; I can't wait to enjoy the fruits of this years work!  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mother's Day Gift

I can finally post about our Mother's Day gifts for the grandmothers!  My mom reads my blog and I didn't want to give away the surprise ahead of time.  I got my idea from this blog and then followed this tutorial.  I ordered this kit from and it was very easy to put together.  I used a watercolor painting of Lucy's and made a small copy into a scrabble tile necklace pendant.  I thought they turned out nicely and made a fun gift.  I still need to make another one for myself!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ear Infection

We recently made it through an ear infection without antibiotics!  Lucy had a cold for a week or so and then developed a fever and told me that her ear hurt.  Ear infections often develop at the tail end of a cold, as the mucous just isn't draining out enough and becomes infected.  This is one reason that during a cold we really focus on steam treatments and nasal aspirators to get that junk out.  Because she was able to tell me that her ear hurt I was pretty sure it was infected.  

I have some homeopathic earache drops that I put in the ear she was complaining about.  You can also get garlic-mullein oil at the health food store and use that.  I already had the earache drops or I may have tried making a garlic oil on my own.  The book Naturally Healthy Babies and Children is a reference book I keep on my shelf and gives directions for this.  As the book suggested, we also put a warm water bottle on her ear for 10 minutes or so and it did seem to help relieve the pain.  I had her lay on her side and watch a Dora episode while the medicine was soaking in.

I have an earscope and reference book that I purchased a while back and have been learning to use.  I was able to look in Lucy's ear and see that it was red and inflamed.  Because I'm not an expert, I took her to the Dr just to see how bad it was.  I was headed out of town the next day and Lucy was going to be staying home with Daddy, so he wanted me to take her in just for a check.  The Dr agreed that she had an ear infection but that it wasn't horrible.  She started to prescribe antibiotics, but I told her if it wasn't the worst ear infection she'd ever seen, we'd like to hold off on the meds and just see how it resolves itself.  The Dr agreed to that and said that in a day or so if I felt she wasn't improving I could just call in and they would prescribe something.  In one or two days, she was fine and back to normal.  About a week later she told me that her ear didn't feel funny any more, so I'm sure it took a while to drain.

New research says that 80% of ear infections resolve within four to seven days on their own without antibiotics.  If we had chosen the antibiotics right away, Lucy would not have recovered any faster and she would have been on medication for a week or more.  Antibiotics upset her tummy and can take quite some time to recover from.  I feel that we were cautious, but I'm glad we trusted her body and took the approach that we did.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garlic and a Giveaway!

***Giveaway is now closed.  Thank you for all the comments!***
Comment # 8 was chosen by and the winner has been contacted.

Garlic is a wonderful health booster.  It is in the same family as onions and similarly helps prevent heart disease and cancer.  Garlic is also antibacterial; it has been used to treat a number of problems including gangrene infections and even the common cold.  Garlic contains manganese, selenium and vitamins B6 and C.  When crushed, garlic yields allicin, a powerful antibiotic and anti-fungal compound.  

Garlic should be plump and dry, not shriveled or soft.  Although it looks tempting, the bigger "elephant garlic" is not as potent or flavorful.   Some say that organic garlic may have more of the health benefits so I choose organic when available at my grocery store.  Garlic should be stored in a cool dark place with some air circulation.  I have a garlic keeper that stays in my cupboard and works well for this.  

Allow garlic to sit for several minutes after crushing, and before cooking, for maximum health benefits.  If we are using garlic to treat cold symptoms I crush the garlic and then mix it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a dipping sauce for bread.  Lucy enjoys eating this and even asks for it.  Raw garlic seems to have the most health benefits, but we add it to many soups and cooked dishes as well.  Find lots more garlic info here.
OXO recently sent me their garlic peeler to try, and I'm hooked!  I love little inventions like this that make healthy cooking easier.  I much prefer using fresh garlic rather than dried garlic powder or minced garlic, but I don't like peeling the cloves and smelling like garlic all day.  With this handy invention, you just place the cloves inside, press down, and roll the peeler back and forth.  The garlic comes out ready to be used, the peels stay inside, and your hands stay clean.  Rinse the garlic peeler and its clean and ready to put away in its little vented case.  The case is made of polypropylene (safe plastic) and the peeler is silicone.  

Let me show you how this works:

Here are my unsuspecting little cloves, ready to go into the garlic peeler.

Squish and roll.

Because the peeler is clear, you can see inside to be sure that your garlic is fully peeled and ready to use.  As you can see, the garlic peel stays inside and you can dump out the clove.  Rinse the peeler to clean it.  

Here is my freshly crushed garlic waiting to be put in my Chicken Tortilla Soup, and my garlic peeler, rinsed and in the box ready for next time.  

Would you like to win one of these?  OXO is giving a garlic peeler away to one of my lucky readers!  Leave a comment and let me know your favorite way to use fresh garlic.  I'll close the giveaway in a week and choose a winner.  (Giveaway ends May 21, midnight.)  Please be sure that you leave your email address IN your post - when you log on to post, even though you enter your email address, I do not have access to that.  You need to write your email address in your post, or be sure that your blogger profile has email enabled so that I can contact you.  Thanks for stopping by!  It works for me.  :) **Giveaway now closed.  Thank you.**

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mealtime Prayers

When my girls were younger, meals consisted of mom trying to eat while breastfeeding the baby and trying to help spoon food into a hungry screaming toddler's mouth.  Things have calmed down a bit around here as they've gotten older and we've recently begun saying prayers before we eat.  To help us remember to say them, I wrote up several prayers on index cards.  Lucy put fruit and veggies stickers on the back of each one and I laminated them.  We keep the cards on or near the kitchen table and Lucy and Julia enjoy picking one out for me to read.  We also say our own prayers at times, but we enjoy these written prayers too.  Here are the prayers that I used:

Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

God you’re great, God you’re good.
Now we thank you for our food.
By your hands, we are fed.
Now we thank you for our bread.

(This is a popular prayer that I changed a bit so that we were talking to God rather than about him.  "God you're great" instead of "God is great", etc.)

God our Father, God our Father,
We thank you, we thank you,
For our many blessings, for our many blessings,
A-ah-men, A-ah-men.

(Sung to the tune of Are You Sleeping, Brother John?)

Now I fold my hands and say
Thank you God for my food today

When I get up, I'm thankful for a brand-new day.
When I get dressed, I'm thankful I can run and play.
When I sit down to eat, I'm thankful for my food.
And most of all, I'm thankful for a God who is so good.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Perfect Granola Bars

This is probably my favorite make-it-at-home-yourself recipe!  Its easy to put together and makes 18 granola bars.  When you compare that to the price of store bought granola bars with only 5 or 6 in the box, this definitely saves money.  These are nice and chewy and you can add whatever you like to them.  I often make them with chocolate chips because that's Ross' favorite, but we've also used craisins, butterscotch chips, or peanut butter chips (not all together).  I store these in a container in the freezer so that they stay fresh.  They thaw quickly enough that we just grab them out of the freezer and eat them.  As you can see, they don't last long... 

4 1/2 cups oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick and 1/3 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips or craisins (or any other seeds or nuts you want to add)

Mix well and press into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 325 for 18-22 minutes.  Use the bottom of a glass cup to press down again after they are done cooking.  Slice and keep in the freezer.  Makes 18 bars.  Enjoy!

See more Frugal Friday posts here.

Find more healthy recipes here: Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Parade

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Note On Product Reviews

Many companies are recognizing blogs as powerful advertising avenues.  Several websites have cropped up where you can register your blog and be contacted by manufacturers to host giveaways and product reviews.  There are entire blogs devoted to this.

My blog is not primarily a platform for product reviews, its about sharing information and research on all levels.  When I find a product that I blog about, it is because I have researched my options, reviewed the product, and chosen it for use in my own home.  I have high standards and you can be sure I've done my homework when I offer a product review or giveaway.  I do not host Google ads on my blog for the same reason- I will not vouch for something I personally have not researched.  I enjoy reading reviews on amazon, checking out books from the library, reading company websites, and all that goes into creating an informative post for my blog whether that be about the health benefits of onions or safe lead free lunch bags.  When I post a product review, discount code, or giveaway, it is because I feel that it fits within the realm of my blog and is something my readers can benefit from.  

Just wanted to be clear about that.  ;)  If there is something you'd like to see reviewed here or particular information you are looking for let me know and I will consider that for a future post.  Leave a comment here or contact me by email.  (christy.vw @ gmail)