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August 27, 2014

The Summer Sun and Baby Sunscreen

I don't know about your summer, but Ohio has been brutal.
Flipping from high 70's to low 90's, it's awful.

Regardless of the heat, babies still need maximum sun protection!

I have been reading about sun protection and infants quite a bit lately. From what I have read, I've come to the conclusion and agreement with the Skin Cancer Association that babies under 6 months of age should stay out of the sun as much as possible. Especially between the hours of 10 am - 4 pm.
I know, it seems nearly impossible.
Wearing protective clothing when they are out helps.

But when the heat is unbearable, I put sunscreen on my little boy.
I know.

The way that I see it is;
Sunburn vs. sunscreen chemicals.

I choose to slather on the sunscreen on that kid and avoid sunburn, thank you very much!

I have looked into why sunscreen isn't recommended under 6 months.
The FDA states that it would prefer that caregivers use sunscreen as a last resort, and even then quite sparingly on babies under 6 months. 
Because babies’ skin is thinner and more permeable than that of older kids and adults, and because their skin-to-body-weight ratio is greater than that of older people, they’re more likely to absorb sunscreen ingredients and suffer reactions.

Sometimes when parents hear the word, 'chemicals' they freak out and start running the other direction.
I figure that the chemicals in mineral based sunscreens are worth putting up against the risk factors of cancer.
Some ingredients I plan on staying away from;
Oxybenzone, an excellent filter for UVA rays, is also a synthetic estrogen. If it's absorbed through the skin, it can be an endocrine disrupter. 
No thank you.

Retinyl palmitate, often used because it's an antioxidant that boosts the efficacy of UV filters, may also increase photocarcinogenicity, the rate of developing cancerous lesions or tumors from sun exposure, according to a 2009 study.

Give me a mineral based sunscreen void of those ingredients and I'll show you a greased up baby boy having an awesome time in the pool and sunshine!

My favorite mineral based sunscreen; Babyganics

Baby Badger Organic Mineral Sunscreen is another great option!

(See ingredient list here)

The sun is brutal all the time, even in the fall and winter.
So please don't forget to apply and reapply!

Do you follow every recommendation for your children? 
What is your favorite sunscreen? 
What are other organic items that you may use?

August 21, 2014

Are you a 'Crunchy' Mom?

Crunchy Mom, Granola Mom, Hippie Mom…

What about just ‘Mom’?

Since becoming a mother, I have come across this categorizing when it comes to decisions and how you raise your children. It’s interesting to find myself placed in a category just because.

I have to admit that I had to look it all up on Urban Dictionary…

Crunchy Momma
Mother who supports homebirth, breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, gentle discipline, etc. One who questions established medical authority; tends to be vegetarian and/or prepare all-organic foods.

Now, I’ll admit that I am some of those things, for sure.. But not all.
And, I don’t really appreciate being put into a box.

I took a test to see just how crunchy I am.
Evidently, I’m pretty crispy.

(These terms seem so ridiculous, but I'm finding myself using them!)

I guess cloth diapering, spreading out vaccinations, part time co-sleeping, breastfeeding/pumping, baby wearing, among a few other things makes me fairly crunchy.

Another note: I didn't know that minimal to no makeup was a 'crunchy' thing. 
That's just plain weird.
Oh, and my footwear choice too evidently.

I completely understand the idea of building a community... 
But, really, we are all moms first!

Do any mothers out there have anything that adds them to the 'crunchy' category?
Is there anything on the crunchy list that you are just not going to do?

August 18, 2014

New Mom Essentials: Getting Through Recovery and the First Month

To be completely honest, there isn't much that you need for your baby right off the bat. 
Here are the things that I found necessary, or nice, during the first month while I was recovering from my c-section.
New Mom

Yoga pants and a nursing tank seemed to be the uniform for the first 2 weeks. I couldn't fit in any of pants because they all rested on my incision... And nursing tanks are the best inventions ever.

I had a lot of family and friends visiting, so a nursing cover was polite... Not necessary, but I didn't want anyone to feel like they had to leave just because Jaxon was hungry.

With having to go back to work, establishing a freezer stash of milk was necessary... So pumping was a must.
And nipple cream was nice for those first few days.

I tried to use disposable nursing pads and found that they made any soreness worse... So I had my sister-in-law make me some washable ones.

The bottles were really only used when I was out for too long without Jaxon, and Jake had to feed him. 
I like the Tommee Tippee brand because of how comfortable it is to hold... I know that there are many options regarding bottles. They just happens to be my preference.
If I were to branch out, I would try Medela's new Calma nipple. Medela Calma is designed exclusively for breast milk feeding with the baby needing to create a vacuum in order to get milk from a bottle. 

Personally, Jake and I chose to not bathe Jaxon until after his umbilical cord fell off. Once it did, we decided that showering with him would be easier for us until he was a little older. I love the California baby line, so it was a no-brainer for us to use their baby wash.

With my weight restriction of 10 lbs being in place the full 6 weeks, which I was terrible about because Jaxon was born at 9 lbs, the car seat and stroller were necessary for any outings.

My days were mostly spent on our couch, packing our condo so we could move. Because of this, the swing was a true blessing.

And boy-o-boy did we swaddled that boy up for the first month. 
We had hand made receiving blankets, but with summer in full force, I found that I preferred the lighter muslin swaddle blankets.
Now, I use them as nursing covers because they are so light and big!

August 14, 2014

Pumping Essentials for the Moderate Pumper

Throughout my maternity leave I only pumped a few times. It was when I was at rehearsals and left Jaxon with Jake for some boy time. In those few and far between pumping sessions I did not learn too much. It was not until I was back to work for my second month that I realized that I needed up the ante. I was pumping about 7-9 oz a day and Jaxon was eating about that much while he was with SIL… Jake was still feeding him a bottle in the morning at home, so my pre-stocked stash was dwindling quickly!

Here is a compilation of items that I use on a daily basis specifically related to pumping.

Pumping is a bit of trial and error, just like anything else child related.

The things that ensure pumping success for me is water and continuing my prenatal. 
If a mom is eating a well balanced diet, a woman can get all the necessary vitamins and minerals... But it can be hard, really hard, to eat right when you are caring for a baby.
Prenatal vitamins are great for helping a breastfeeding momma the iron and calcium she needs, although not quite the recommended daily milligrams.

Another thing that I am sure to take daily, is Fenugreek. It’s an herbal supplement that is for digestion that actually helps boost milk production. I am a testament to it because on days when I don’t take any, it is evident in the amount I am able to produce and pump. It can be said that in order to get the most from the herb, you should take enough to make your sweat start smelling like maple syrup.
Yes, you read that right.
You will start smelling like maple syrup.
For me that means that I would be taking about 9 capsules a day.
I take 3 on a normal day and up the amount occasionally.
I’m sure that if I took enough to get the desired result, I would be a better milk machine than I am.
It’s one of my goals for this month.
Added bonus, my husband loves pancakes…. ;)

Now that I work half days, I was given a half hour lunch, which I spend in the lactation room, pumping away.
Yes, I pump for the whole time I am there… Which equals about 20 minutes of pump time, with a 5 minute set up and tear down.
The first thing that I bought for those long sessions was a hands free pump bra. I went three days without it, and that was 3 days too long. Holding both shields prevented me from doing anything else and I was so bored.
Money Saving Tip: Take an old sports bra and some scissors to make your own. If I had thought of that earlier, I could have saved myself some cash!

My work provides a hospital grade pump for mothers to use. I don’t have any experience with other brands, because Madela was what my insurance provided me with and is also what pump is provided at work.
With that, I use most of the parts that came with my set.
Bottles, ice pack and cooler.

A recent discovery that I have made is that the pump shields come in different sizes. It makes sense, every woman’s body is different.. Therefore pump shields are not a one size fits all. Buying the appropriate size shield made a huge difference in my daily pull.
Like an ounce difference on my finicky side. That’s big in my book!
Plus it was much more comfortable to pump and I did not feel as sore after a session.

I tend to wash everything with hot water and Dawn when I get home, but use wipes for when I have to pack everything up after a session. The last thing you want is to have dried milk all over your bag… It just makes me mad to see any wasted milk, even if I know that it’s unavoidable. At least when I wipe things down I don’t see it all over later.

After I get home I transfer my milk into freezer storage bags. This should be self-explanatory.
The only hard part is reminding Jake that the older bags from our stash need to be used before the newer ones.

In order to keep my calorie intake up, I try to eat a well-balanced diet… But I know that it’s not always possible. For those days, or times that I feel really snacky, I go for the protein bars. My favorite right now happens to be the Luna bars. They are the first protein bars that I have found that I actually like eating more than once a week.

Do you think I missed anything?
If you pump, or have in the past, what are some things you needed?

August 12, 2014

Goodbye, Robin Williams

My heart dropped as I read the headline on my Facebook feed. 
Robin Williams was trending.
At first I thought it was a hoax and I had to Google it to be sure.
Web source after web source affirmed what I had read.

Robin Williams is gone.

So far it is cited as being an apparent suicide.

I'm floored that someone who brought so many people such joy and laughter could harbor feelings dark enough to lead them to that kind of solution to their troubles.

I spent the rest of the night talking with Jake about our favorite roles. 
Some we agreed were great.
Others we had completely forgotten about.
We discussed his strengths and weaknesses throughout his career.

It was a good night that prompted me to want to watch many of my favorite movies again.

Hands down, Jake's absolute favorite movie ever is Hook.
I'm talking about the film score being on his playlist constantly.

I can't help but think of What Dreams May Come, a movie I can watch over and over again.

Mr. Williams had such an amazing career and talent that he shared with us all.
'There are no small roles, only small actors,' is a true statement for this amazing man.
Each 'smaller' role he took, he embraced completely.

The doctor in Nine months.
Teddy Roosevelt in Night at the Museum.
Wizard in August Rush.
The reverend in License to Wed.

Not to mention the many animated characters he gave a voice.
Romon in Happy Feet.
Genie in Aladdin.
Fender in Robots.
Batty in FernGully.

These are just a few on his vast list of credits.

His comedic roles and quick humor may have solidified his presence in movies, but it was his dramatic roles that showed his brilliance and range. 

I'm truly heartbroken and reeling.
I send warm thoughts and prayers to his grieving family as they try to sort through their feelings and find comfort in each other.

August 7, 2014

Cloth Diaper Questions

How many diapers do you need for one child?
I have heard of parents using as few as 8 diapers and washing daily. I I started out with 25 and stressed washed every other day. Now I have closer to 50 and it's such a relief to wash at the end of the 2nd day. With less of a stash I was so scared about running out of diapers on the 2nd day.

How does your kid move?
Jaxon actually moves pretty well. His diapers didn't stop him from doing things. 
He rolled for the first time, front to back, when he was 12 weeks old. He rolled from back to belly when he was 14 weeks.

What is the worst part of cloth diapering?
The anticipation of starting. It's so intimidating when you have no experience and are thrown into this new world of terminology and sometimes conflicting advice. 
You have to just dive in and learn as you go. 

How often are you changing diapers?
I change every 2-3 hours, depending. If I know he is poopy, I change him right away. At night he gets a diaper with added inserts put on at his midnight feeding.

How big does a baby have to be to start cloth diapering?
Some companies have newborn diapers that are for babies 5-10 lbs. I started diapering in the AIO (all-in-ones) when Jaxon was 12 lbs. We could have started sooner, but I was intimidated and had a stash of disposables from my baby shower and the hospital.

How do you know if the diaper fits correctly?
The diaper should fit like underwear.
The general rule is that you should be able to fit 2 fingers into the waistband easily.
If it leaves deep red creases, it is too tight.
Also the leg gussets should fit in the creases of your baby's legs.

Do diaper changes take longer with cloth?
The only thing that may take longer is getting things snapped, but that is only if the snaps are being dumb.
I can be just as fast as other moms.

What is your favorite diaper brand?
For night time I am leaning toward the Kawaii's because they are bigger and allow a lot of room for extra inserts.
For day time I really do not have a favorite. I'm picking favorite prints at this point.

Do you diaper differently at night?
I place more inserts in the diaper for night time so that the diaper lasts 5-6 hours.

How did Jake respond to cloth diapering?
He was all for it. He loves the idea of saving money, so we didn't even really discuss it at length. I just started getting diapers and he would ask to see the prints every once in a while. Now I just show him the new ones and he says, 'Yep.'
Jake is slowly getting the hang of the wash routine. He has yet to do a full load, from start to finish, but I'm sure that it will take time to get him to take a pee filled or poop stained insert out of a pocket diaper. Spraying poop might be a different story.
A diaper sprayer is more like a toy, right?

What is something that you are going to change?
I am currently working on phasing out the microfiber inserts that I have. I don't like that they have a reputation for compression leaking.
They may turn into dust cloths.

What do you do for swimming?
Swim diapers, paper or cloth, have only one purpose.
Catching poo.
Any PUL diaper cover can do that, so I just use a cover, sans insert.
I do check him every once in a while and if he poops, change him immediately.
I don't like the idea of him sitting in anything poopy.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask away!

August 6, 2014

Cloth Diapering: The Hang-Ups

Jaxon was in disposable diapers for his first months and a week here and there when we have been bad about laundry. 
Because of this I feel that I have a pretty good grasp of things in the diaper world. 

My reason for cloth diapering is completely financial and visual.
When Jaxon was in sposies we were going through about a pack every 3 days.
And with a single pack of diapers costing $9-12... It adds up quickly.

I am able to get diapers from online co-ops for $3-5 a piece.
I have never paid more than $10 for a diaper.
And these are diapers that I will be able to use repeatedly for more than one kid.

My complaints are as followed.

Too much cute!
That's right. These diapers are too cute. 
It is very hard to stop myself from getting more and more.
I do, otherwise what would be the point... But it's hard.

Another thing, there are diaper clicks.
It's funny to hear about a group of people only using one type of cloth diaper and bashing all others.
Now that I have tried pocket diapers, I want to try all the other types of cloth to see if anything is easier.

The Hype of new patterns is pretty crazy too.
I mean BumGenius announced a new print and the cloth diapering world seemed to go absolutely insane.

Onsies wicking away moisture.
Yeah, I put on a onsie, and within an hour, sometimes less, the leg creases are wet.
It's annoying.

Fluff butt makes kids go up almost a whole size.
I am having to buy the next size up in pants and onsies in order for them to fit over his diaper.
It makes me a little sad to be buying bigger than he is, but that is more of a denial thing.

Laundry trial and error.
I hate that it takes so long to find what works perfectly for you... And sometimes if you deviate from that, even just a little, your diapers may turn out completely different.
It has taken me a month of messing with things to get my diaper load to the size that makes enough agitation to really get things clean, without stains of any kind.
I do a rinse, then add 2-3 towels into the power-kill-everything wash.

I don't like that people sometimes share that they think that cloth diapering is gross. That it causes rashes and stink.
It's poop we are talking about here!
I'm sorry, have you ever smelled a disposable? What about a trashcan full of random disposables?
All poop smells!

Also, what do you do with clothes that get peed on by pets?
What do you do when your kid's diaper leaks or you have a poop explosion?
Do you throw the items away?
Not usually.
You wash them with lots of detergent.
That's exactly what I do to my kids diapers.

So there you go.
Cloth diapering isn't all rainbows, unicorns and starry skies.

Becoming a Working Mom

After a glorious 12 weeks off of work, I found myself walking back in to my work building. I was 45 minutes earlier than usual, due to my new position. 
It was not a good feeling.
It was a lot harder than I expected.
I nursed Jaxon throughout the night, like usual, but when Jaxon fed at 4:30am I could not bring myself to fall back asleep. I cuddled my little boy and covered him in prayer.

I prayed for Jaxon’s day to be fun and exciting.
For him to be happy and content in his new daily surroundings.
For bottles to not upset his little tummy.
For Jake quickly find a rhythm in getting him ready and out of the door.
For SIL find a balance in adding another infant into her days.
For patients and strength to get through the day.
A also prayed very selfish things.
For my day to pass by quickly.
For my time as a working mom to be very short.
For any of his firsts to happen with me and not while he was with SIL.
For Jake to absolutely hate me working and want me to stay home full time.
For Jake do to amazingly well on his MCAT so that we could start early admission and get into a school faster.

I cried quietly as I kissed my little boy, placed him next to his daddy on the bed, and went to take my shower.
I cried in the shower then I steeled myself for the day.
Why did I have to leave Jaxon when I was just starting to get the hang of being a full time mom?!
I felt completely out of control as I chose my work attire. It was like an out of body experience. I was doing the exact thing that I have done for the past 10 years… Only everything was completely different.
My goal and purpose had changed. Work was no longer about the paycheck. It had turned into the one thing standing in-between me and my baby boy.
I hated it.
I still do.

That first day of work was the first morning Jake would be getting Jaxon up, ready and out of the house on his own. 
I was nervous for him.

That is a lie.
Really I was jealous and aggravated because I would not be in control of what was going on.
Believe me, I did just about everything I could. I packed the diaper bag, set out Jaxon’s diaper and clothes, told Jake what time he had to drop Jax off at SIL’s.
Short of being there myself, I controlled the morning.

He did really well.
A lot better than I expected, or really wanted.
Jake always handles new challenges well.
He always delivers.
And he is good looking to boot.

The day was full of people welcoming me back, asking to see pictures and hear an update about Jaxon.
And even with all of that, I couldn’t focus on anything.

I was heartbreakingly lonely.
It was along the lines with how it felt to have Jake in Afghanistan.
It feels so silly to say that that first day of leaving my baby boy with someone else and having my husband deployed to a foreign country felt the same. Jake would probably be mad about the comparison. But it’s truly how it felt.
Going from having my little man within hearing range at all times to knowing that I wouldn’t see him for 8 solid hours seemed impossible.
As impossible as getting through a year without my husband by my side.
The similarities are almost scary.

I handled both situations similarly.
I breathed in and out.
I checked in as often as my job would allow.
I made prayed constantly.
I watched the clock like a woman drowning, grasping for that last breath of clean, fresh air.

SIL really helped me get through the day by sending me pictures of Jaxon  playing.
{A new play mat!}

The second that my clock hit 1:30pm I was out the door.
There was not anything that was going to hold me in that building a second more.
I practically ran to my car.
I don’t even remember the 25 minute drive to my sister-in-law’s house.
I just needed that baby.

When I stepped through that door, I felt instant relief.
Greeting my nephew who was in his underwear, getting ready for his nap time. 
I smiled and picked up my sweet niece, who had crawled to the hallway to see who was coming into her house, giving her chubby cheek a kiss... 
All the while I searched for Jaxon.

There he was, sleeping in the swing.
I cuddled my niece closer as I just stared at my sweet boy, sleeping.
Everything was fine. 
I knew it before, but seeing him allowed me to take the first full, deep breath of the day.

After hanging out, nursing Jaxon, and talking to SIL for a while we headed home.
On the way home I thought about our arrangement.
It really was going to work out.
I could work part time, trust my husband and SIL with Jaxon during the day and not go insane.
I know that I will hate every second of it.
But it’s doable, for now.

Now, I just wait.
Bide my time and wait for Jake to take me aside and tell me to put in my two weeks.

Now that…
That will be a great day.

August 5, 2014

Diaper Bag Review: Skip Hop Duo Essedntials in Onyx Tile

Jaxon is almost 4 months old! 
I can't believe it!
Please, someone tell me it isn't true!

He has been in cloth diapers since he was just under a month old.
(We were gifted a ton of pampers that got us through the first month.)

Since then, it has been all about trial and error when it comes to the diaper bag. 

I have a Skip Hop Duo Essentials diaper bag, in Onyx Tile.

Cute pattern. it's very 'me' while being manly enough for Jake to carry.

Attached stroller straps.
This is pretty awesome. I'm pretty against having to buy extras and having the stroller straps as a part of the bag's design is great. Whenever I use the stroller, I try to get the bag up so that it is easily accessed. 

Lots of functional pockets:
The outside pockets are nice sized for stashing hand wipes, binkies, small toys and chapstick. The quick grab essentials.
The inside pockets are standard. They fit about 3-4 onsies... Or 4 disposable diapers and a small package of wipes. I roll up my nursing cover and put it in there for easy access.
There are 2 zipper pockets that are at the top of the bag. This is where my 'mommy pocket' is that holds my spare makeup and sunglasses.
The other zipper pocket holds all Jaxon's essentials like mineral based sunscreen, gas drops, nasal saline drops... Those kinds of things.

Deep Bag.
This is a con for me because I want to be able to reach for everything easily. With this bag I have to have the diapers on the bottom and stack everything else on top. It's doable, just not convenient.

You can't stuff this bag too full.
.. The second you fill this bag to capacity you no longer are able to close any of the pockets. I have had things on top of my bag fall out of the top and go all over the place. One time my wallet fell out onto our driveway and I didn't even know it until I got back home!

No short handles.
I have found that if I am carrying Jaxon in a wrap that I am unable to wear the bag. If I try to, I have to do it on one shoulder and I find myself leaning to keep it on. I would prefer having a short handle for the occasions when I am by myself, or only carrying the bag short distances. I do know that Skip Hop just came out with the Duo Signature which fixes this pet peeve. Too bad they just released it a few weeks ago.

The 'Phone Pocket' doesn't fit my iPhone.

All-in-all, it's not a bad bag. I just wish it I could fit a little bit more in the big pocket and have it still close properly.

I am undecided if I am going to search for a new bag or not.
Probably not... But we will see.

August 1, 2014

Cloth Diapering: It's All About Fit, Baby!

Aaah, YouTube.
I love you.

I'm definitely a person to look up How To videos if I'm confused or searching for answers.
People are so much more opinionated when they are being taped.

Cloth diapering is no different.

Here is a fit video that really changed how my diapers were performing.
It's all about fit, baby!!

Information about Contour and Fitted Diapers:

Yay helpful videos!!!