Welcome to my third blogging experience...created in order to keep my other blogs free of my crazy rantings. This space will be dedicated to the day to day trials and tribulations of motherhood and life in general...as well as the experiences that come with trying to rediscover the many basics of life that have been lost to the constant hullabaloo and cookie cutter mentality that has become the 21st century.

I am a proud mama to our first born, Gracie, who waits for us in Heaven, and her very lively little sister, Jenna. I am a semi-crunchy mama who works full time outside of the home. If you come here to read, expect to find posts related to cloth diapering, breast feeding, homemade baby food, organics, cooking and recipes, day care & working outside the home, baby wearing, natural childbirth, general fitness, general nutrition, environmental topics, etc.


Feel free to ask questions, share valuable information that you might have or share your thoughts and/or opinions. Please do not come here to attack the things that I believe or the way I live. I will respect your opinions as long as you respect mine, even if it means agreeing to disagree!! :-)



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Genetically Altered Products - What's in Your Cupboards?

This article surfaced on FB today.  Even if you are not really into organic eating, it's worth the few minutes that it will take to read.  It's an eye-opener. 

Sticky Buns

I've posted one recipe each of the last two Sundays, so I figure that I might as well make it a weekly thing for now and see how long I can stick to it.  Below is a recipe for the fantastic sticky buns that my grandmother used to make.   (Yeah...a sticky bun recipe after I typed my fingers to the bone earlier about organic and natural...)

The story with this recipe is that my grandmother somehow got it like 60 years ago from a then-famous pastry chef from NYC who spent summers in the town where my grandmother lived.  No one really knows how or why she was given the recipe, but she kept it under lock and key for years and years.  About 10 years ago I was going through some boxes belonging to my father, and I found a large envelope of my grandmother's things.  Among them was an index card with a very faded recipe for sticky buns.  My father claims that he didn't know it was there, and as far as we know, the recipe remained a secret until that point.  Looking at the recipe, it looks so basic that it's hard to believe that it was ever a secret...

GRACE'S STICKY BUNS

Buns:

2 packs of dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk
1/3 cup oleo

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
5 to 5 ½ cups of flour

Add yeast to warm water plus 1 tsp. of the sugar.  Set aside and let bubble.
Scald the milk, shortening and remaining sugar.  Cool to lukewarm.  To the cooled milk mixture, add 2 c. flour.  Beat at least 100 strokes by hand or 2-3 minutes with electric mixer.  Beat in eggs and stir in yeast mixture.
Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Knead dough 8-10 minutes on lightly floured surface.  Don’t skimp on kneading time.  Place dough in a greased bowl.  Turn once and grease the top. Cover and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size.  Punch down; let rest 10 minutes.

Cut dough in half.  Roll each half out to about 16” x 18”.  Cover top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar (don’t get butter or sugar on edge that you’ll want to seal).  Roll lengthwise as for jelly roll.  Seal edges.  Cut in 1” slices.  Place cut side down in sticky mixture in 8” x 8” x 2” pan pr 9” pie pan.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.


Sticky Mixture: 
½ c up butter  -  1 cup brown sugar  -  ¼ cup milk  -  chopped nuts optional
Combine ingredients in small saucepan, boil 2 minutes.  Add nuts at end.   

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Giveaway List

Jennifer over at Makobi Scribe's Product Reviews has a bunch of giveaways going on right now.  Head over and check them out!  Some of her current giveaway items include:
  • A Valentine's Day pillow pet
  • Bummas wipes
  • A toddler cable hat
  • TrueW.omb Saddler

Organic Decisions

During my first trimester with Jenna I joined the September 2010 birthboard on BCC.  Although I did find some of the banter there helpful, I found that for the most part, many of the women there were petty, caddy and sometimes just downright mean to each other.  It was worse than living in an all-girls dorm, and honestly, I found it exhausting...so I just quit going to the board.  Before I quit going to that particular board, I read (and I believe commented on) a thread that has stuck in my brain.  I looked for it today for a few minutes, because I wanted to post a link here, but I couldn't find it.

The post more or less asked us to post what healthy changes we were making (or things that we already did as part of our normal life style) during pregnancy.  There were all types of responses from far left to far right, and everything in between.  Some women said that they were switching to organic foods during pregnancy, some women revealed that they would not change anything during pregnancy (including cigarettes, alcohol and/or drugs).  Some vegans said that they would re-introduce dairy and eggs - just for pregnancy - and then return to veganism after the baby was born.

As might be expected, there were all kinds of attacks on the women who intended to continue smoking, drinking and partaking in recreational drugs.  But there were also several very nasty responses to the women who had included healthy eating and exercise in their plans.  One response in particular was very nasty.  It called those who tried to eat natural/organic 'self righteous', and claimed that lots of people couldn't stomach or process organic foods, and that some people 'just don't exercise.'  These responses were kind of surprising.

If you have been reading any of my blogs for any length of time, you have probably picked up on the fact that I am a little 'crunchy'.  DH is what I like to call 'crunchy by association'...but he's getting better!  I have lots to say about our experiences on the crunchy side, but I'll do it one step at a time!  :-P   

Today I'm writing about organic and natural food, which has become part of our everyday life.  As recently as a few years ago, we ate quite a bit of fast food and our cupboards were filled with various processed and packaged foods that are found in most kitchens across the country.  Today, we eat faaarrrrr less fast food (when 'unsupervised', DH is not completely on board with this...I think it's just a man thing.), and our cupboards look a lot different.  I make 90% of our bread, and we use homemade 'ha.mburger helper mix' and baking mix (Bisqu.ick).  We use organic milk and yogurt (and cheese when we can get it at decent prices), and we buy mostly raw milk cheese or growth-hormone free cheese.  Once a year we get a mixed quarter of locally raised organic beef (steaks, roasts, ground, etc...last year it came out to less than $2.30/pound), and we also get half of a locally raised almost-organic pig once a year.  We eat venison (gasp - yes, my husband has been a deer hunter for the last 30 years), which costs us nothing more than my hubby's hunting license, ammo and time.  We buy organic eggs from a friend that has organically raised chickens ($1.50/doz for brown, $2/doz for green) or from a local organic poultry farm for $2/doz; we get organic chicken and turkey from that same farm.  The chicken and turkey are the most expensive 'meat' purchases, usually coming in at $3-$4/pound for chicken and about $2.50/pound for turkey (but there is nothing like eating never-frozen organic turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas - nothing compares to it!!).  Other than the occasional frozen pizza and local potato chips that we are addicted to, we don't buy much in the way of prepared/boxed foods that require preparation (mac & cheese, hot poc.kets, frozen dinners, Hamb.urger helper...generally to try to avoid the sodium.  If we do purchased packaged/prepared foods, they are usually of the organic variety.  We consume far less fluffy white death (white sugar and white flour) than we used to, and instead go for more natural sweeteners and whole wheat flour when possible.  (For medical reasons, I was on a gluten free diet for about 2-3 years a little while back, so I got really used to baking and cooking without bleached wheat flour)  We try to do as much cooking from scratch as we can, which can be really inconvenient when we don't want to cook!!

Making this 'switch' is not something we did overnight.  We did not simply clean out our cupboards and throw stuff away.  We just started making better decisions when replacing things as we used/consumed them.  It is a decision that is not widely supported by many of our close friends and family; for various reasons.  It is a decision that we spend a fair amount of time defending.  My husband's family is not really health conscious at all.  My MIL brings us food all the time - usually something with beef.  We never turn her food down, but we are trying to figure out how to get her to use our beef if she is going to cook for us.  We've mentioned it before, but she just laughs at us and says 'You'll be fine.  Just eat it.'  My sister is far crunchier than I am, and I had anticipated that my family would have been tired of poking fun and debating her lifestyle.  I was wrong.  Perhaps they just expect her to be more 'eccentric' and have accepted that she will always do things her own way, whereas they have seen me as perhaps more conventional and have a tough time accepting that I, too, have a crunchy streak...I don't know.  I can tell you that it's gotten old, though. Here are some of the common comments that we get from family and close friends:
  • We've eaten this stuff for years, and there's nothing wrong with us.
  • You know, the government and FDA keep publishing all kinds of studies showing that organic stuff isn't all it's cracked up to be.  In fact, it's not any better than the stuff you avoid.
  • You're going a little overboard.  You keep telling us that you're strapped for cash, but you're spending all kinds of money on expensive organic food.
  • All that foo-foo stuff tastes like cardboard.  Just take extra vitamins.  You'll be fine.
  • Vegetables and fruit are vegetables and fruit.  Healthy is healthy.  Organic vegetables and fruit are just over the top.
  • Oh.  You're one of those.
  • It's not cool to judge so many people for not eating the way you do.  

Here are the reasons that we have gone natural/organic...most (but not all) of this list has been used as rebuttal to the above list.
  • One of what?  One of those people that actually gives a crap about healthy living.  Yep.  I am.  One of those people that likes to be educated about the things I can to to possibly protect myself and my family from preventable diseases, including some forms of cancer?  Yep, you caught me.  I am.  One of those people that doesn't assume that the government and large corporations should be taken at face value?  Sure am.  One of those people that likes to know where some of her food comes from - just for poops and smirks?  Absolutely.  And NO - we don't judge anyone based on their food choices.  We have made this decision because it is right for us; we don't expect that it is right for everyone around us.  With a couple specific exceptions, we have not tried to influence the food selections of anyone around us by saying 'our choice is better than yours.'  In fact, there are an awful lot of people around us that judge us and tell us we're nuts and that we're wasting our time with these decisions. 
  • Well, as a matter of fact, there are lots of things wrong with 'us' as a population.  Let's start with the sharp increase in high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity, just to name a few.  I have an adult family member and a teenage family member that are morbidly obese.  The adult has not always been this way.  He was in the military for 4 years after high school, and when he was finished his service 25 years ago, he was an average-size guy.  He was big when Jeff and I started dating 16 years ago, but the obesity has become a real issue over the last 10 years or so.  The teenager was a big baby, from day one (he was over 10#), and it has never gotten any better.  He is now almost 350#; he hasn't been able to run in years and he has serious signs of depression at this point.  He quit football two years ago because he couldn't run, and it recently took several months for a foot fracture to heal.  When he went for an athletic physical two years ago, the doctor wanted to send him the next week for a gastric bypass consultation (After a couple days of processing this, everyone involved - including the doc - realized that this was a terrible idea.).  The entire family has tried various weight loss tactics over the years - Atkins, some cranberry and protein diet, an off the cuff version of Weight Wat.chers.  None of them have been successful, primarily because nothing is ever taken seriously...yet this obese adult is one of the biggest bashers of the way we eat.  Nutrition, in general, is a huge issue here.  Obviously organic vs. non-organic is not going to make a difference in this case, but natural vs. chemically laden certainly might.  Eliminating some of the crap and adding some physical activity wouldn't be a bad place to start.   
  • Since making this wide spread change, I cannot say enough about how good I feel.  My gluten free diet was the result of a smattering of mysterious ailment and symptoms.  It was a last-ditch effort to feel better.  Much to my (initial) dismay, it worked.  Random symptomology gone.  I have gone back to consuming gluten, but I don't think gluten was the real issue.  Lots of gluten free foods (at least when I was on the diet) are simply healthier because they don't have all of the chemical additives.  I seriously suspect that one or more of the chemicals in my daily diet were the underlying issue the whole time.  
  • Yes.  We've all eaten Ore.os and eaten McDo.nalds forever.  But the problem is that it's really not the same as it used to be.  Years bring progress.  Progress brings technology.  Technology brings synthetic additives.  Synthetic additives are cheaper.  Cheaper is better for business.  The bottom line is that over the years, most food production companies have changed the composition of their products.  They might taste the same as they did 20 years ago, but they are not chemically the same.  (But really...if it's a gradual change over 20 years, how many people really notice?  It's not like anyone is pulling out the Oreo cookie from 20 years ago and going bite for bite against one purchased today.  I say that today's taste is probably quite different than the taste from 20 years ago...)  So much of the food on the shelves today is laden with unnatural compounds - including high fructose corn syrup.  Sure, the FDA has approved those compounds for use in our food, but how many times have we seen them repeal those decisions or mandate warning labels for certain items after they've been on the shelves for years.  I have come to believe that if our bodies were made to process and digest most of those chemicals and compounds, they would be naturally occurring. 
  • I've seen the studies that say 'No one can say for sure that synthetic bovine growth hormone is worse than natural bovine growth hormone', but no one has shown me the rest of these FDA studies.  I keep asking where to find them, and no one can tell me.  
  • Organic doesn't mean laden with vitamins and minerals. It means lacking chemical crap.  And yes, as recently as a few years ago, lots of packaged organic food left quite a bit to be desired in the taste department.  But it's improving on a daily basis.  Over the last year or two I have put organic stuff in front of my hubby and had him tell me that it tastes the same or better than the 'regular' stuff.  This includes cookies, pop tarts, granola bars, pretzels, etc.   
  • Nope, not all organic food is health food.  There is such a thing as organic junk food.  It just lacks many of the chemical additives found in 'regular' junk food.  
  • Sure, veggies are veggies and fruits are fruits.  It's not necessarily the underlying flesh that I'm worried about.  It's the chemicals adhered to the outside, with the possibility that they have perhaps permeated through to that underlying flesh.  Again...the chemicals.  And for those who like to remind me that farmers have been using pesticides for years, I have two points to raise.  How long have we been chasing the cause of most cancers?  Are today's pesticides reeeeally the same as the pesticides used 10, 20 or 30 years ago? 
  • Let's talk about Autism.  I actually don't buy into the vaccination theory as much as others do.  I think that many of the vaccinations we got as kids are pretty harmless; it's the new stuff, like the chicken pox vaccine, that I question.  Let's talk about the plastic vials that the vaccines have been package in for the last 10-15  years (yes, I know...some of them are in glass, but not all of them).  How long do some of those vaccinations lay around soaking up the chemicals out of the plastic before they're injected into some poor, unsuspecting babe?  I also believe (be it right, wrong or indifferent) that the chemicals in the foods eaten during pregnancy, as well as the foods given during infancy and toddlerhood play a large role in the rise in Autism.  Again, for me, it goes back to chemicals.
  • I wonder quite a bit about all of the antibiotics and steroids in the meat we eat.  Seriously, when I was 13, none of the girls in my class had racks like 13 year old girls have today.  None of them.  Commercial farming is at an all time high in this country.  It's one of the most hideous industries ever, and I am a firm believer that it is ultimately playing a large role in many health issues emerging or increasing today.  It's all about the bottom dollar, and to get more of those dollars, beef is being pumped full of natural and artificial steroids and antibiotics; poultry and pork are being pumped full of antibiotics.  Living conditions for these animals are horrid.  Go to You.Tube and search for Weg.man's egg farms, just as an example.  If you start there, you'll find your way through the rest.  There are lots of videos about all the things we want to pretend don't happen.  Back to the products that make it to our supermarkets...I fully understand that even organic milk has 'hormones', simply because cows have to have some flow of natural hormones to produce mild.  Okay...that's been going on forever; additives have not.  I have consciously made the choice to know where my beef, poultry and pork come from, and I have made the conscious choice to buy 'cleaner' dairy products. 
  • Yes, organic foods can cost a little more at the register their non-organic counterparts.  (I also maintain that you get what you pay for...if you spend a little more at the register, it might go a long way toward better health, which will cost you less money in medical expenses down the road.)  But it doesn't have to be a bank-breaking choice.  Prices are starting to come down on lots of organic selections in the grocery stores, and 'natural' is cheaper than organic and still lacks chemical crap.  Organic produce purchased at farmers' markets is often very close in price to what is purchased in the grocery store. 

    But there is also another factor that makes it so incredibly affordable for me.  Granted this option is not available to everyone, but it is becoming more and more widespread.  My magic solution?  Surplus/salvage grocery stores.  We have one very close to where we live, and I shop there quite a bit.  In fact, if we didn't have to go there for milk, I might not go into the 'regular' grocery store more than once a month!  It is not nearly as glamorous as shopping at the big name markets, but I really don't care.  As long as you carefully inspect what you buy, you can practically steal your groceries.  The only bad thing is that lots of things are hit or miss, so you have to buy it when you find it.  It might not be there tomorrow.  Depending on the item, and how often I see it, I might buy 10-12 of something I would ordinarily buy 1 or 2 of at any given time. 

    Our surplus store is a natural/organic hot bed.  Cereal, pop tarts, granola bars, pasta, shampoo, conditioner, pasta sauce, oatmeal, cough drops, bottled juice and juice boxes, Lu.na and Cli.f bars (some for 17 cents each, some for 33 cents each!), potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn, crackers, baking products, soup, broth, frozen/canned veggies, applesauce, cookies, nuts, baby food, the occasional organic frozen meat (usually pork loins), katsup, mustard, salsa, peanut butter, jams, oils.  You get the point...you name it, you might find it.  At dirt cheap pricing.  There have been times that we have filled our cart with natural and organic goodness and paid far less than we would have paid at the grocery store for the 'regular' food, even with coupons and club card discount.  The only thing they don't have is organic milk and cheese, and meat is a rarity. 

    So where do you find these stores?  They are popping up all over the place.  Do a go.ogle search for surplus or salvage grocery stores.  Check this website...it has a list of some, but it's not comprehensive (the list is 3 years old and the two closest to me are not listed).  Ask around at work or at your mommy groups - someone is bound to know of one or two.  Even if it's an hour drive to get there, many times it would be worth making the trip once a month. 
 
So there it is...my very long rant for the week, and boy, do I feel better!!!   Take it at face value and don't read anything into it!!  I would love to get up on a podium and read this to an audience of closed-minded folks or post it where people who criticize us the most could read it, and perhaps I will eventually make a FB post of out of it.  More so, I would love to just tell some people to take a flying leap and mind their own business.  For now, I will just rant here.  :-)

If you are on the same wagon I'm on, it's nice to know that there are others here.  If you are not on the same wagon, but have been thinking about it, do more reading.  I suggest Orga.nic Ma.nifesto or Fo.od Inc for starters.  If you are not on the same wagon, just for the record, I respect the fact that we disagree about food - in general, we can agree to disagree.  :-)    If you made it this far, thanks for reading.  Wishing you all a fabulous week ahead...

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    A Little Green Tip

    Allyson over at Go Long, Go Green posted this today and I thought that I would share.

    Did you contribute to the 840,000 tons of phone books that were tossed into landfills last year?  Do you have the fact that you get 6 or 7 phone books each year...all containing the same information?  Click the link below to opt out of delivery of some or all of the books delivered to your doorstep.




    Click here to sign a petition for an on demand phone book system that would limit delivery of phone books to those who request them.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    A Few More Giveaways

    Kellywels.com is giving away 2 One-Size FuzziBunz pocket diapers AND 2 Knickernappies One-Size diapers this week!  This would be a great giveaway to win!!

    As I was investigating amber necklaces for Jenna, I stumbled across a great new blog...that happens to be hosting a giveaway for an amber necklace from Inspired by Finn.  Check out Halfway Crunchy to enter to win an infant-size Baltic Amber Teething Necklace!!

    Diary of a Momma is hosting a fantastic Go Green Package giveaway.  The giveaway is for a Go Green Champs pocket diaper, a Go Green wetbag and a package of wipes!  Check it out!!

    Cloth Diaper Whisperer is giving away Thirsties Duos Fab Fitteds and a Thirsties Duo Wrap.  Check it out!!

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Baked Ziti

    I posted this recipe this week on a rainbow mamas FB group, and I thought that I would post it here.  It is super quick and easy...and always delicious!


    BAKED ZITI
    1 box ziti                                                          
    1-2 jars Prego spaghetti sauce                           
    32 oz ricotta cheese
    8-16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
    1 egg (optional) 
    1/2 to 1 pound ground beef or sausage (optional)

    Cook ziti as per package and drain.  Add ricotta, sauce and egg.  Mix.  Add mozzarella and mix thoroughly, leaving some to sprinkle on top of desired.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges.   (I have thrown this together without cooking the ziti noodles; I add 1/2 to 1 jar of water to my sauce/cheese mixture when I do this.  You just have to play with it a little bit to get it the way you like it!)

     

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    More Giveaways!

    For those interested in cloth diaper giveaways, here are some that are currently running.  Some end soon, some end in the next week or two...I am going to try to put those ending soonest toward the top of the list, but I can't guarantee that I will get them all!  :-)



    An AWESOME Crunchy Mama Prize Package from Diary of a Devil Dog Wife - ends tomorrow!!

    Organic Caboose Aplix fitted diaper via  Makobi Scribe - ends 1/23

    Planet Wise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag from Cars, Trucks and Teething Rings - ends 1/24

    Go Green Silky or Minky Pocket Diaper from Fabulous Family Reviews - ends 1/24

    Best Bottom Diapering System from Nicki's Diapers via Simply Stacie - ends 1/24

    Kawaii Heavy Wetter diaper via Empty Uterus Syndrome - ends 1/24

    Doodle Dypes diaper from Dibs - ends 1/24

    Abby's Lane Gift Certificate from Cars, Trucks and Teething Rings - ends 1/25

    Happy Heinys One Size giveaway at Luv My Two Girls - ends 1/27

    Abby's Lane Gift Card from Fabulous Family Reviews - ends 1/27

    Go Green Pocket Diapers Champ Diaper from Mommy is Green - ends 1/27

    One Size Pocket diaper from Cloth by Tel via Simply Stacie - ends 1/30

    Maxwell Designs Wet Bag from Toots n Tots via Simply Stacie - ends 1/30

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Salsa

    I was looking through my online cookbook at allrecipes.com trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and I thought that it might be fun to share some recipes with you all every once in a while. 

    I found this recipe about two years ago, and first made it when I was pregnant with Gracie.  It has become a favorite!!!  It can also be found here



    GRILLED CHICKEN WITH STRAWBERRY SALSA

     
    Chicken and Marinade
    4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
    1/4 cup olive oil
     
    Salsa
    2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
    2 tablespoons white sugar
    1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
    1/3 cup minced red onion
    2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
    salt and pepper to taste
     
    1/4 cup sour cream
     
     
    Pound the chicken breast halves with a meat mallet until 1/2 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper and place into a resealable plastic bag or small baking dish. Whisk together 1 serrano chile, garlic, chili powder, and 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until incorporated, then pour the marinade over the chicken breasts, squeeze out excess air, and seal. Place into the refrigerator, and marinate for 2 to 3 hours.

    While the chicken marinates, toss the strawberries with the mint and sugar in a bowl. Cover, and refrigerate 1 hour, then fold in the remaining serrano chile, red onion, and 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the salsa stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

    Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate.
    Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade. Cook the chicken on the grill until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with the strawberry salsa and a dollop of sour cream.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Things I Cannot Live Without

    Jenna is almost 4 months old, and I think we are finally settling into a rough schedule.  It's been kind of difficult for use to keep her on a consistent schedule for lots of reasons.  I started back to work part time when she was about 3 weeks old, and full time around 6 weeks; this didn't give me much time to settle either of us into much of a schedule.  My hubby works weird hours to start with, and for the last 10 months or so his schedule has changed on almost a weekly basis.  We have 3 different people babysitting for us - my step-mom, my MIL and a family friend who is roughly their age.  We have made specific requests of them and given them specific instructions; but each of them has their own way of doing some things, and some of them don't follow the 'rules' quite as well as others, which also tends to disrupt scheduling.  And of course, just generally figuring Jenna out has a lot to do with the schedule!  :-P

    As we have worked on the timing of things throughout our day, I have discovered a few things that I simply would not be able to live without at this point in time.  This stuff is old news for some of you, but new news for others, so I thought I would pass along my thoughts and input. 


    THINGS THAT I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT

    Fis.her Pri.ce Oc.ean Won.ders Aquar.ium Sw.ing
    I am totally about reuse and recycle, and saving money whenever possible, so I did not buy this swing new.  I bought it for $20 at a yard sale.  The little guy that it belonged to turned out to not enjoy swinging as much as his parents had hoped, and they ended up putting it in the attic after about 2 weeks.  We set this up before Jenna was born, and thankfully, it was ready to go when we brought her home.  We came home with a light blanket for her jaundice, and when we got home, I suddenly wondered what I was supposed to do with her when she was in the blanket; I couldn't leave her in the bassinet all day.  So, we wrapped the light blanket around her and popped her into the swing.  Magic.  Pure magic.  She loves to swing, and I love that she loves to swing.  :-)   We started putting the tray on a few weeks ago, and we have been clipping a chain of plastic links and a toy to it, and she's been going to town!  The only thing I don't like about it...well, there are really two things...  I hear the music in my sleep, even when it's not playing.  But the main thing I didn't like is that once she was no longer wearing the light blanket in the swing, the lowest speed seemed to be just a little too fast until she hit about 10 pounds.  We were tempted to weight it down a little bit, but it didn't seem to really bother her at all.

    It is also worth mentioning that in addition to this swing, I picked up a full size Fis.her Pr.ice Papa.san cradle style sw.ing at a yard sale - also for $20.  It looked like it had just been taken out of the box.  At the time, we weren't sure what the babysitting situation was going to be, so we figured for $20, it would be good for the babysitter's or as a spare in case the first one broke.  Identical frame shape and size.  Identical controls.  I pulled the papa.san swing out a few weeks ago to put in the bedroom when Jenna was staying up every night until 0300.  I found that the seat tips back further/flatter than the Aquar.ium sw.ing.  The furthest forward/upright seat setting on the Pap.asan swi.ng is the same as the most 'reclined' position on the Aquar.ium swing.  I also found that the slowest movement setting on this swing is definitely slower than the slowest setting on the Aqu.arium swing.  My conclusion...with the next little one(s), we will likely start with the Papa.san swing and then move to the Aquari.um swing around 3 months or so.  The best part??? The Papa.san swing plays different music!!!

    Fish.er Pri.ce Tak.e Alo.ng Swi.ng 
    This was another yard sale purchase - $10 - so it is purely by coincidence that this is the same theme as my big swing.  This thing has also been a life saver.  I take it with me to my office if she needs to be there for a few hours, we take it to the firehouse if we are going to be there for an extended period, and we take it with us if we are going somewhere to visit (grandparents, friends, etc) where there won't really be anywhere else for her to sleep or sit and be occupied.  It doesn't have a try, but I have one of those little carseat toys (not this one but one like it) and I have using that to keep her occupied .  The thing that I don't like about this swing is that the seat reclines pretty far back, and it's not adjustable.  It's great for a newborn, but once they start wanting to sit up, it's all over.  I anticipate that within the next 4-8 weeks, this will only work for us during nap time.  It also plays the same music as the big swing.  Ugh.  Overall, a great product, but I am glad that I didn't pay $80-90 to buy it brand new.  (We also have the Fish.er Pr.ice Oce.an Wond.ers crib aquarium...that plays the same music as the two swings...so if your little one finds it soothing, you are all set.  Just be prepared to hear it all day in your head.)


    Fish.er Pri.ce Rai.nfor.est Melo.dies and Ligh.ts Del.uxe G.ym
    This was one of the only things that wasn't purchased off of our registry.  After much debate, I decided to purchase it myself.  I am soooo glad I did.  Jenna will lay under this thing for 45-60 minutes at a pop and entertain herself.  The 'blanket' on the bottom comes off and can be thrown in the washer, which is always a plus!  I have no complaints about this thing!!!  It's wonderful!!!

    video


    Toy links
    Not necessarily this brand, but just in general.  For everything...the swing, the floor gym, the car seat, etc.  I already bought a 28-pack, and plan to pick up more next time I'm out.

    Ad.en and Ana.is Sw.addle Blan.kets
    Swaddling is not for everyone, but it worked well for us.  We still swaddle Jenna at night, but with her arms out now.  I found these blankets when she started outgrowing her receiving blankets.  They are a little pricey, but you can find them cheaper and/or on sale.  They rock, and are worth every penny spent.  The more I wash them the softer they get!  Just love them!!  My only recommendation is to keep them away from cats with claws intact.

    Rechargeable batteries
    I have long been unimpressed with the life of Energi.zer rechargeables.  I looked around several years ago for rechargeable D batteries for the bike and elliptical in my office and found Ten.ergy batteries.  (They can also be found through this site)  I was skeptical, primarily because they aren't sold through too many venues, but they had good reviews, so I took a chance.  Love them.  Asked for C and D sizes for Christmas to use at home in all of the energy sucking devices that Jenna loves. 



    THINGS THAT HAVEN'T IMPRESSED ME TOO MUCH

    My Gra.co tra.vel system.  They are so popular, so we registered for a stroller/car seat combo.  The plan was to use the stroller inside and get a jogging stroller to use for our long walks with the dogs.  We should have just gotten the car seat separately and gotten a jogging stroller that accepts the car seat.  I hate the Gra.co stroller.  We don't use it that often...primarily if we are shopping somewhere without shopping carts or if we go somewhere that I cannot wear her or carry the carseat for a long period.  The steering leaves quite a bit to be desired.  The back axle is wider than the front...so if you manage to get through a tight space with the front, you still might not get the back through.  It is very difficult to steer using just one hand.  I think I am going to stick it out with this stroller until the next bambino arrives.  At that point, I will probably get a double jogging stroller that will accept the car seat.  

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Another Cloth Diaper Giveaway

    I found a new blog that I love ... and they are doing a cloth diaper giveaway with a diaper that I have been considering trying for a few weeks.

    The blog is Go Long, Go Green!... much of it is dedicated to green parenting, which is right up my alley!!  I love it!!  She is giving away a diaper from GoGreen diapers.   Specifically, she is giving away the new and improved Champ diaper.  I would love to win one of these, but in all honesty, if I don't win, I am very likely going to order one or two to try them out!!  To enter the giveaway, go here.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Tutorials for Cloth Diaper Beginners

    One of the cloth diapering blogs that I follow posted a wonderful cloth diapering basics tutorial yesterday.  I was one of those confused and bumbling preggos not too long ago, and this post would have been tremendously helpful reading at the beginning of my journey to begin cloth diapering.  If you are considering undertaking cloth diapering and don't have a clue where to start, check out this post!

    Update to this post....  two other sections have been posted under as part of the tutorial series at Doable Diapers.