Friday, January 29, 2010

Where?


In preparation for being able to stay home once baby #2 arrives, I am busily thinking of ideas to create multiple "streams" of income. I've decided that this is a better fit for me than trying to develop one idea alone to fully depend upon for my family's income. I just wish that I knew for sure what will actually work and what won't...or if anything will work...

God,

What direction do you have for me? I am unsure, yet filled with hope. I need doors to close, and only the ones you want me to walk through to open. When decisions involve my family and money, it's much more difficult to choose a path less guaranteed than another...but then, is even a "regular" job stable?

Speak to me. I need to know how to proceed, and I feel that I need to start the process of these multiple income streams sooner than later so that I have a river by the time we need it. Open the floodgates for me, Lord. Show me the way.


Rachel

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Because someone has to win...

Four things you might want to know about...

1) A really, really, really nice mama over at Diaper Swappers is offering a lotto where you can win 22 free diapers and inserts including Fuzzibunz, Drybeez, Swaddlebees, and others. She is even paying the shipping! All you have to do is leave her a comment with a story where either you performed a random act of kindness or someone did so for you. The contest ends 1/31, so get writing! The winner will be chosen at random. Click here to enter.


2) ShopRite Partners in Caring has teamed up with General Mills to launch a new video contest called Expressions of Hunger. This local video contest encourages every day people -- from classrooms to choirs, families to friends -- to creatively share their perspective on the issue of hunger through song, dance, poetry or dramatic reading.



By entering, people will have the chance to be one of six (individuals or groups) to be featured on a limited-edition Cheerios box and have their video featured on the ShopRite Partners In Caring website (http://www.shopritepartnersincaring.org). Entries will be accepted from now through March 1, 2010.

To Enter:
· Electronically submit a video of an original song, poem, performance art, or dramatically read story that creatively describes the plight of the hungry or offers a solution to hunger.
· The video should compel others to become engaged in the fight against hunger in our communities.
· Enter by clicking the “Entry Form” button at www.expressionsofhunger.com.
· Here are three example submissions posted on the Expressions of Hunger contest website (www.expressionsofhunger.com).




3) babySNAZZ is giving away 20 pairs of BabyLegs. All you have to do is provide an email address and tell them what item in their store is your favorite. The contest ends on 2/28 at midnight. Click here to check it out.


4) To get Americans thinking about life insurance as an expression of enduring love, the nonprofit LIFE Foundation is sponsoring the Crazy4Love Photo Contest. From now until February 19, you'll be able to visit the popular microblogging website tumblr.com and share a photo that captures how you've expressed your love to someone dear to you. One Grand Prize winner will receive a $1,000 gift certificate toward a romantic getaway weekend. Go to www.insureyourlove.org to learn more about the contest and to enter.


Rock, Rhythm, and Rhyme: Color Songs --Review and Giveaway


Rock, Rhythm, and Rhyme recently sent me a sample of their new CD: Color Songs. LoveBug (my 15-month-old daughter) was thrilled to open her "present" that came in the mail, and enthusiastically nodded a big "YES" when I asked her if she wanted to listen to some of her music. I put the CD on in our living room and we ended up listening to it through twice while dancing wildly and clapping loudly. As far as my daughter's concerned, this is one good album. :-) I now keep it in the car and we listen to it during drives.

Color Songs is a compilation of 10 songs written and live recorded by Rock, Rhythm, and Rhyme (whose members all seem to be from one family, which I think is pretty neat since my 7 sisters and I have had a lot of fun in the past performing and creating music together). They describe the CD best by saying this:


Filled with learning, fun, songs and activities, this live show will have your preschoolers constructively engaged in dance, movement, and just plain-silly-fun.


Entertaining and educational, your preschoolers will participate and interact in musical activities and sing-alongs.


The upbeat tempos and sounds of Rock Rhythm and Rhyme make every event a creative and fun experience.
The songs take you through 10 different colors, talking about common objects of that color and also teaching you how to spell that color. At first, I felt that the music could benefit from being more intricate (okay, that's coming from a girl who played Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu at the age of 15), but then I realized that LoveBug responds best to simpler melody lines and instrumental accompianments. You'll have to listen to the music yourself to get a feel for the music's texture on this album, but let me just say that it's fun, easy to follow, upbeat, and CLEAR. Your child isn't going to get distracted or confused, yet things flow well and are complimentary to each other.

I like that even though you can tell each song is part of the same album, the songwriters have put a lot of different flairs into each piece, making every one a little different in it's style. From rock-and-roll and ballade feels to rap and island influences, your child won't zone out from one song to the next (although you might have the words "Green, G-R-E-E-NNnnnn" running through your head for a while).

After critically examining this album for its musical quality (oh how I hate off-key boring kid's music--it will NOT be found in my house!), educational and developmental purposes, and my daughter's reaction to it, I can definitely say that it will be played in my house for a long time to come, and I myself would pay the $15.00 for it. It's so hard to find GOOD infant and toddler music, that I think it needs to be snatched up whenever possible!

Rock, Rhythm, and Rhyme wants to give one of my readers his or her own copy of their album! To enter, please visit their website, listen to their songs, and tell me which one you like the most. If you're unable to listen, then I guess you'll have to read the titles and tell me which one you think may be your favorite. :-)  You must leave an email address and separate comment for each entry. The contest will end February 11th at 3:00pm, EST.

Additional Entries:
* Become a Fan of Rock, Rhythm, and Rhyme on Facebook
* Follow me through Google Connect
* Subscribe to me via email
* Blog about this contest (2 entries)
* Sport my button (2 entries)
* Sport my V-day button (and this will also give you extra entries into those contests if done by 2/1!)
* Email a few friends about this contest with lifemoresimply @ yahoo.com CC'd in
* Fav me on Technorati
*Tweet about this contest with a link (1x/day)
* Otherwise spread the word about this blog!

Good luck and be blessed!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Valentine Giveaway...


Life More Simply's button


Let the countdown begin! Another review and giveaway has been added to the line up:
 

Cupid's Aiming For You™ – Valentine’s Day Gift Basket from http://www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com/
Review and giveaway - valued at $49.99! Check back between February 1-6 to read the review and get in on the contest. Click here to view the rest of the event's participants.
 
Grab the Valentine's Event button on the right hand side of the page before February 1st to earn an extra entry into the Valentine's Event contests!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

QuiltCreator.com


I recently stumbled across a pretty neat website, http://www.quiltcreator.com/, and emailed them with a review/giveaway proposal. They replied that while they weren't currently interested in doing a review/giveaway, they were interested in giving me a few dollars to tell you about their website. So, yes, this is a paid review (helping to pay for 1/7th of a textbook I just had to purchase, in case you're wondering), but no, I wouldn't have agreed to do it if I didn't think it was worth your knowing about. :-)

QuiltCreator.com is unique in that it lets you seriously customize a quilt, bedspread, or wall hanging that will be hand sewn/quilted and sent to you. The company describes their products as all being "approved by Cotton Inc. and are 100% pure Cotton overfilled with 250gms of cotton." They go on to further explain that "every piece is handcrafted upon order and is truly a one of a kind item." After having used their site to create a few different quilts, I can agree that these are truly a one of a kind item!

How it works: You create an account with QuiltCreator.com (basic information, no credit card required--you'll need to do this to save your quilt designs) and then log in to their "Customizer." This section of the website lets you choose the type of product you want to create (quilt, bedspread, or infant quilt/wall hanging), the theme of that product (do you like a Cathedral Window pattern, or a Double Wedding Ring pattern?), and the fabrics used. You can also opt to have a backing material on the quilt and matching pillow shams. The end product is handcrafted and shipped to you in 6-8 weeks!


What I thought: Before I even contacted QuiltCreator.com, I tried out their website. It was so much fun, and so much easier to design a quilt using their program rather than standing in a fabric store for hours trying to visualize what the finished product might look like! Being a quilter myself (even though I haven't done one ounce of quilting since having my daughter), I am really thrilled by the ability to place different fabrics next to each other in the quilt template before anything's actually cut. If you don't like what it looks like, you can just plop another fabric choice in its place! My favorite quilt that I designed is on the left. I've been wanting a "Christmas" quilt for a while, and thought this one turned out pretty nice!

I'd definitely use QuiltCreator.com as a gift giving tool for my MIL who loves quilts but doesn't make them. In fact, a gift certificate is my plan for this year's Christmas. :-) I'd also recommend using QuiltCreator.com as a way to practice fine motor skills, decision making, and color education with kids or adults with developmental disabilities. The possibilities are endless, the website very easy to use, and using their Customizer is just plain fun.

Now, I haven't actually ordered a quilt, so I can't tell you of the quality. With prices ranging from $129.99-$279.99, though, I wouldn't really mind a lower quality quilt. I've made quilts and I know how ridiculously long they take to actually put together! I also know that the Amish women around here will sell their quilts for hundreds of dollars! I think this is a pretty great deal, and much better than buying a pre-made quilt from a store.

Discounts: Quiltcreator.com has offered the following discount codes for my readers-
10% off your order = 104You
Free Shipping = Ship4Free

You can also become a fan of Quiltcreator.com on Facebook to view project photos and get updates.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Blessingway



"Just as a tree grows best when anchored firmly in the earth, so can a pregnant mother feel strong and capable when supported by a sisterhood of nurturing friends."
-April Lussier

In contemplating the fact that I'm almost 18-weeks pregnant with my second child, my mind has been busy making lists of all of the baby items I'll need to get, the organizing I'll have to do, the cleaning that seems to never get done, and the meals I want in my freezer...all before Baby Monkey arrives! Of course, with the impending birth of my second child, I've also thought about baby showers. Since showers for any children other than your first is uncommon in my neck of the woods, I'm relying on product review samples and yard sales to gather the things I'll need for this next baby. This realization has made me think about how my local cultures places the focus of showers on the giver and the money involved in the giving rather than on the guest of honor and the reason for the celebration. In response, I want to tell you about an un-shower event called a "blessingway."

I love the Blessingway model of celebration and think it's a beautiful compliment or alternative to our standard baby showers. Started by the Navajo Native Americans, a blessingway is like a shower, but it focuses on the mother instead of the baby. While blessingways were ceremonies designated for all sorts of different life passages in the Native American culture, the most common one still held today is for pregnancy/birthing.Women who are close to the expecting mother all come together in the days before her birthing to bless her with encouragement, prayer, support, and love. There may be prayer, singing, foot washing, or special readings at a blessingway, holding firm to the traditional feeling of a ceremony. Belly casting, bead giving, and henna painting are all common activities with the purpose of empowering the mother for birthing and to celebrate her pregnancy.

In my research, I've found that many doulas and a few midwives offer blessingway services. They'll help you organize a blessingway and come run it to ensure smooth flowing from one activity to the next and a positive environment for the participants. Even for people who have never experienced a blessingway before, though, there is plenty of information available on the Internet to help you plan your own celebration.

The basics of a blessingway: http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/blessingway.html

The blessingway's Navajo history: http://www.hanksville.org/voyage/navajo/BlessingWay.php3

Outline of a blessingway ceremony: http://www.birthbeads.com/Blessingway.html

Unfortuntately, I don't know anyone who has either thrown or been the recipient of a blessingway before. I'd love to hear first hand the effects on a mother-to-be from behind upheld in this very spiritual and joyful way in the days before her birthing!
 
Note: this blog post is taken in part from The Blessingway blog post at my pregnancy journal blog at http://octobersheart.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 22, 2010

How to Make Money Through Your Blog: Cashbaq

Building a Better Blog: How to make money online and through your blog
Post #1: Cashbaq.com



Description: Cashbaq allows you to earn either a discount (some up to 50%, average is 5-6%) or a designated monetary amount ($20 is common) on your online purchases from over 2,900 stores. We're talking everything from eBay (2%) and 1800-flowers.com (8%) to Snapfish.com (10%), Visa Black Card ($70), Jelly Belly (10%), and OxiClean (10%). Seriously. Everyone is on this list.

On top of the discounts and rebates, Cashbaq has special "coupon" offers you can use (I get them emailed to me). I find some HUGE deals with their coupons--in fact, that's how I got my Simple Shoes for virtually nothing!

How this earns money:
1) You are saving a significant amount of money on your regular online purchase (textbooks, vacations, household items, gifts, clothing...).

2) You earn $ off of referals. See below.

How to do it:
1) Sign up. It's free and fast--and you don't have to provide too much information.

2) When you (or a friend) makes an online purchase, start at cashbaq.com and then click into your store. Meaning, if you're making a purchase from The Land of Nod, don't start at landofnod.com. Start at cashbaq.com and click their link for The Land of Nod.

2) You spread the word to your friends (if you want to make money from referals). As they sign up and save money on their online purchases, you will earn a comission of their spendings.

Your friends: 10%       Their friends: 5%     Their friends' friends: 2%

So if all of your friends, their friends, and their friends' friends earn a total of $100 a month together online, you'll be getting $17.00


3) Every time you reach $10.00 in your Cashbaq account, they will either send you a check or put the money in your PayPal account.

Other Nice Things:
1) Cashbaq will not share your information or send you SPAM.
2) When you click on a store link, Cashbaq will automatically let you know if there are any additional coupons (on top of the discount) for that store.
3) They automatically put $5.00 in your account just for signing up.

You can't lose anything! I've only made one purchase through Cashbaq.com and already have $7.11 in my account! I've also been a member with them for a few months and have yet to receive any SPAM or anything fishy from them.

Good luck, and get started saving (and earning) some money! Click here to visit their site.

How to make money through your blog and online



So you want to make money with your blog. Or maybe you don't have a blog and want to make money online, instead. I have the goal of earning enough money through my blog this year that I will be able to afford the Internet at my house (about $40/month). In my search to find out how to truly and legitimately earn money online, I'll also be sharing my findings with you so that you too can have a few extra trickles of income!

This will be my criteria:

1) Must be free.
2) Must be legitimate.
3) Must not cost me any extra time (i.e. I won't be filling out surveys!).

The results of this search will be posted here on Life More Simply as additions to the "Building a Better Blog" series--starting today! I have a handful of topics that I'm in the process of researching right now, including Cashbaq, Swagbucks, AdSense, Amazon Associates, and Paid Advertising Space. If you know of any other endeavours that I should add to this list, leave me a message below and I'll check them out for you!

Post #1: Cashbaq

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dreaming of an intentional community



Here's a random Thursday thought for you: creating a safe, healthy, and self-sustaining community.

This is a thought that my husband and I periodically throw around, but that we never take fully seriously. In fact, what brought it about in my thoughts this morning was reading a friend's Facebook status that mentioned she and her husband had recently spent a lot of time reading up on how to be debt free and homestead. Husband and I haven't taken this too seriously yet, because really, isn't it impossible? Even if we could join up with other like minded people, could this even come to fruition? And if it did, wouldn't something spoil the whole thing for us, like dissension among the "tribe"?

I love to think about the possibility of having a community to help each other and raise children in. Each family would have to be carefully evaluated and selected though, as mean as it sounds, to get the ideal mixture of talents, abilities, and resources to sustain the community. How could one maintain the integrity of the group though, without becoming overbearing or like a cult? These are interesting points to ponder.

Without having researched it, these are the skills I feel would be most important for such a community:

Farming: animals and plants
Engineer: general
Medical: Paramedic, RN, or above; should be knowledgeable regarding homeopathics
Carpentry: construction and finish carpentry; electric and plumbing knowledge also needed
Textiles: creating, sewing (clothing and any needed textile items), knitting, crochetting
Craftspeople: pottery, forging, milling wood, etc.
Preserver: canning, freezing, drying, and storage of food and materials
Therapist: should be able to run all types of therapies and evaluations from working with physically and developmentally disabled children to providing counseling for married couples.
Mechanic: general

On top of that, there are certain personal characteristics that would have to be considered, such as integrity, faith believes, intelligence, and compassion. Other things that would have to be considered would be education (I firmly believe in home style schooing), preserving the arts (both visual, performing, and music), health insurance, and a general monetary income (might I suggest an E-Commerce solution that people could contribute to?).

I'm not speaking of living in a cult, a hippie compound, or an inter-breeding community. I'm simply dreaming of land where the people who live on it help to support and sustain each other, and who could continue living abundently even if shut of from the rest of the world. An intentional community.

Who does this successfully? What else would need to be considered?

Dreaming of the simple life...Am I crazy?

Here are some links I've found but HAVE NOT gone through yet about intentional communities:
http://www.twinoaks.org/
http://earthaven.org/
http://ecovillageithaca.org/evi/ (okay, I live near Ithaca and the place scares me like Sodom and Gomorrah, but I figured I'd include the link here anyway just so I can check it out later)
http://www.thefarm.org/
http://directory.ic.org/

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Brighten Your Day


A few things you might enjoy knowing about...

#1 Spend Time With Your Kids + Donate $ to Save The Children + Win Awesome Prizes
= Spin & Win game!

As said by MyBlogSpark and One2One Network...
Frigidaire and Jennifer Garner are teaming up once again to support Save the Children's U.S. Programs, dedicated to helping children living in poverty in the United States.


Their new Spin & Win game gives you the opportunity to win gift cards for spending quality time with your tykes - whether it's curling up with some new books, starting a craft project or taking in a family flick. They're giving away a prize every day. Plus, you could also win a brand new Frigidaire Affinity washer and dryer, with time-saving features that give you more time for the important things in life.

Best of all, every time you play, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children, as part of their $250,000 commitment to support Save the Children's CHANGE program, dedicated to providing nutritious snacks and promoting healthier lifestyles for children living in poverty in the United States.
 
Daily Prizes include:

$200 gift card to play dress up
$100 gift card to take in some family flicks
$100 gift card to build a birdhouse or go camping
$75 gift card to curl up with new books
$75 gift card to get out and play
$50 gift card to start a craft project

Click here to play (fast, free, and fun--I tried it!): http://www.maketimeforchange.com/



#2 Coupon for $1.00 of General Mills Cereal
General Mills and MyBlogSpark sent me information about how great it is for kids to eat breakfast cereal every morning, as well as coupons for free cereal. We tested Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Chocolate Chex, and the Muli-Grain Cheerios. I think the Cinnamon Toast Crunch is too sweet for my liking, and I'm still not going to feed it to my 14.5-month-old daughter due to the sugar and processed content, but my husband loves it and I feel a lot better knowing he is getting a lot of needed vitamins. The Chocolate Chex are fun--gluten free and made with actual cocoa instead of artifical flavoring! These are good and not overwhelming as the chocolate flavored ones are mixed amongst "regular" chex pieces. The Multi-Grain Cheerios are my personal favorite, with 100% of an adult's daily iron plus a bunch of vitamins. They're slightly sweetened and it's not too much. I also appreciate that you do get a variety of grains in the cereal!

Click here for a $1.00 coupon off of a General Mills Cereal.

Correction as of 1/20/10: in my original version of this post, I commented that General Mills Cereal now has a reduced sugar content. Since posting, I've become aware that the reduced sugar cereals are in the works and have not been released yet. So keep your eyes open for when the reduced-sugar versions of our favorite cereals are released to store shelves!



#3 Free Candle
You can get a free Serenity aromatherapy candle (Lavender and Ylang Ylang, 2.75" x 5") from the Free Aromatherapy site. Thanks to http://www.littlepeoplewealth.com/ for alerting me to this find! Don't ask me why a t-shirt shop is giving away candles...


How To Start Using Cloth Diapers



Cloth diapering a child for the first time can lead to many questions and a sense of being overwhelmed. You'd think that the concept of putting a cloth on your baby's bum wouldn't be so complicated, but with all of the different diapering choices out there it can become a daunting task! Having helped cloth diaper many of my siblings and one child of my own (soon to be two!), I've learned a thing or two about where to start.

Educate Yourself
Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners - Pack of 3 (white, white, mint green)Do you know the difference between a fitted, all-in-one, pocket, and prefold? Do you know how to take care of a wool cover? Do you know which types of diapers even need a cover? Take the time to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each sort of diaper. Take into consideration your child's needs and your family's abilities (time and financial constraints). Remember that some diapers are easier to use than others, which will come into play if you are using a babysitter or if dad just can't handle a diaper without velcro or snaps!

Here are some articles that may help:

Test Before You Invest
Factory Seconds Prefold diapers, Infant 4x8x4, UnbleachedBefore LoveBug was born, we spent hours researching cloth diapers and had determined that Green Acre Design (GAD) diapers were the best. Cute, trim, absorbent, who could want more? We invested in a 24-or-so diaper stash of used GADS as well as two new ones from a friend of mine before LoveBug was even born. After she was born, we found that she didn't fit the GADs all too well and Dad's hands were too big to easily stuff the pocket.

Instead of investing in only one style and brand of diaper, be sure to test a variety on your baby. All of the research in the world still won't compare to your child's personal experience. You will find that you prefer one or two styles over the rest, and that one brand of those will probably fit best. Once you've figured it out (give yourself a few weeks), sell the ones you don't want to keep and use that money to invest in more of the kind you do want to use.



Buy Used
Thirsties Diaper Cover- Celery, SmallNot only will this save you a significant amount of money, but most often, the diapers will arrive in as-new condition. You should be aware of any problems before you choose to buy, so just don't buy them if you're worried. Common problems and solutions would be:

Stains = lay in the sun to bleach them out
Worn elastic = repair it yourself or send it to someone else (we don't have the time, so we don't buy these)
Not repelling water = strip the diaper

We've always bought our diapers used and haven't had a problem. The resale value is tremendous on cloth diapers, often getting you 75% back if you bought new, and 90-100% back if you bought used. I would only recommend going through www.DiaperSwappers.com or Craigslist.com. Sometimes, you can find great deals on new diapers through Amazon or by watching natural parenting stores.


bumGenius One-Size Cloth Diaper ButternutDetermine when You Want to Start Cloth Diapering
Cloth diapering from the hospital versus when your baby is 4-weeks old makes a difference. Even a lot of "small" sizes won't work on newborns, so you'll need to get a separate stash of X-Small, Newborn, or Preemie sized diapers if you want to start from the beginning. Don't be fooled--those "one size" diapers don't actually fit tiny babies!

With LoveBug, we waited to CD until all of the meconium had passed (it's a bear to get off of anything, especially fleece lined diapers!). Instead, we just used up newborn sized disposable diapers that had been give to us and went right into the "small" size of CDs. If you do want to CD from the start, I'm finding that the general consensus is to use prefolds or fitted diapers with covers until your baby is ready for a "small" size in other types of diapers. With Baby #2, I'm *hoping* to CD from the start with fitteds/prefolds and wool covers (later switching to pocket diapers). We'll see what happens!

Charlie's Soap All Purpose Cleaner - 1 Gal JugAnd just in case you're wondering...our favorite diaper is the Pocket Change brand simply because we don't have to remove the inserts before throwing the diaper into the wash. :-) We use a bumGenius! diaper sprayer to clean off diapers before putting them in our dry pail, wash with Charlie's liquid soap, strip with Sensi-Clean, and dry everything in the dryer. My favorite insert is Knickernappies' Loopy-Do, but we use a variety of inserts to increase the absorbancy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Baby's Guide to Mom Returning to Work



One of the feelings I struggled with the most when returning to work after LoveBug was born was the lack of control I now had in my child's life. Even though I would ask certain things of her caregivers (always a family member), the truth was that the caregiver was going to do whatever she was going to do and I wouldn't be there to stop her. Most of the time, everything was okay...but there were a few times when my will was deliberately went against or I was left out of the loop by a lack of communication.

As Mommies, we need to remember that we are the best person for our child. It doesn't matter if we aren't the ones who can be with our babies every day. We are still our baby's mommy. Over the last year, I have learned that something as simple as packing the diaper bag differently each day can help give me back my rightful sense of control. I may not be there to protect my child, but darnit, I will do everything within my power to provide my child with the best experience possible and to know everything I can about her day!

Here are some things that I add to our bag to ease the transition and enhance the communication for both baby and myself:

1) Photo of mommy and daddy. LoveBug has been able to recognize her mommy and daddy through photos since she was very young. Part of her daily routine at Mimi's house now is to find our wedding photo, point to her Ma and her Da, and give us kisses! Now do I know that this actually helps her bonding with us? Nope, I don't have any idea if it helps in any way...but it sure does make me feel better, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if she likes knowing that she can see me at any time of the day that she wants to. This gives HER a sense of control!

2) Mama's milk. It makes me feel a whole lot better knowing I'm providing the ultimate nutrition for my child, and I know that she prefers the taste over anything else (at least until she was about 1-year-old. Now she drinks other things during the day and doesn't use a bottle). Being able to still give my child something so precious to both of us even when I can't be with her is amazing!

3) Cloth diapers. I like to use CD's for so many reasons, but for this particular blog entry, I like to use them because then I know exactly how many diaper changes she had during the day. Using CD's also tells me how much urine she excreted (by how saturated the diaper inserts are), and the consistency and frequency of any bowel movements (even though these are dumped out before the diapers are given back).

4) Something that smells like mom. When LoveBug was very young, I'd send a worn shirt for her to snuggle against while she was sleeping. There IS research to back up the whole mom-baby scent thing. :-) It helps the bonding process, and also relaxes the baby more when sleeping. Now that LoveBug is older, she doesn't need a shirt anymore, but I will let her take something of mine with her if she grabs it and puts it into her bag.

5) A keep-track notebook. I've seen commercial versions of these, but the idea is simple enough for you to make yourself. The idea is to create a place for the caregiver to write down details of your baby's day as well as any notes for you about questions, concerns, special moments, or upcoming events. You could use a blank notebook and just write the day's date at the top of the page, or better yet, create your own template and put it into a three-ring binder.

The template can break the day down by time (LH column) and add event icons across the top of the page (like a bottle, a diaper, a crib for napping, a toy for playing, etc.). Then, the caregiver can simply check the boxes as appropriate throughout the day, or write details (like "bm" in the diaper box if your child had a stool). You'll be able to quickly tell how many diapers your baby went through and for how long she napped. Another idea is to put the icons on the LH side of the page (in a column going down) and have the caregiver write the times in boxes across the paper horizontally along with any pertinent notes.

However you choose to do it, having a written record of your baby's day will make your life easier. It's difficult to rely on someone's memory to recall what your child ate, how much, and when. I also find it's hard for me to remember to ask about every detail...until I'm home and my child throws up...then I am immediately wondering what happened during the day!

6) Contact information. Including a luggage tag with your child's and your information on both the diaper bag and car seat is a great idea just in case of an emergency. Be sure to limit your child's information to only what's necessary (who wants a creepy stalker knowing these things?). Your tag may look like this:

Name: LoveBug; DOB 10/2008
Mother and Father: Rachel and Ron
H: (555) 555-5555; W: (555) 555-5551
Allergies/Medications/Medical History: none

Being a paramedic, how great it would be to have this information readily available every time I showed up to a car accident where there's a kid in a car seat and the parent is unconscious or taken away in a separate vehicle!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

BABIES preview



I can't wait.
:-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Mom's Guide to Returning to Work


Returning to work after having a baby can be a pretty emotional and difficult experience for mothers. I've personally polled both fathers and mothers about their return-to-work experiences, and it seems as though mothers generally have a much harder time overall, and for a longer duration of time than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, there's no magical way to make you feel good about yourself, happy that you're working, and excited because your child is with someone else. There are a few good things to have in your bag on the first day you go back to work though, that can help you make it until you're home again.


1. Cell phone. Yes, you will probably cry when you call to check up on that precious little one, but you'll feel better being somehow connected than not at all.

2. Tissues. Make sure they contain aloe, or you'll have a red nose from all of the rubbing.

3. Photos. These can break your heart when you look at them, but you'll at least feel proud to show them off to your co-workers.

4. Something of your baby's. At first, I brought a small blanket with me that had LoveBug's scent. After crying into it a few times during pumping sessions though, I think it began to smell like me. As she got older, I would tuck other things into my bag or pocket. My favorite is a little silicone bracelet she loves to wear and chew on. I can put it into my pocket and touch it whenever I need to be close to her. Now, I'm delighted to find little things that she put into my work bag without me knowing--half eaten crackers or a small toy, usually. :-)

5. A good pump. Most laws have states that protect the right of a mother to pump milk for her child. It may be more work for you while you're at work, but the emotional benefit of knowing you're providing the best nutrition for your baby--and that you're the only one who can do it--outweighs the annoyance of rinsing things out in the sink when you're done. In fact, even though my daughter only nurses when I'm with her now (I was able to stop pumping just after she turned 1-year-old), I realized how important providing milk is to me when I thought she was done nursing altogether (it just turned out to be a one-night thing). To think that I had now lost the one thing I felt I could do for her that no one else could...It made me feel helpless! Well, I now realize that I have to be able to let go of nursing when she's ready, but I also realize how important it's been for me to have this connection and mark of "I AM HER MOMMY!" for myself. Having a good pump can make all the difference in whether or not you're able to get milk out when you're away from your child!

6. A good lunch and lots of water. You're already probably going to be an emotional wreck, so at least feed yourself properly so you don't have to contend with malnutrition, dehydration, or a low blood sugar as well.

7. A compassionate friend. If there's no one in your work, identify someone you can call, email, or just talk to when you get home about what you're going through. You will hear things that hurt when you go back to work, you may have to re-build your sense of motherhood, and you will find that you aren't able to keep up with everything in your life like you used to. It's going to be hard, but you aren't going to die. So make sure you have a support system to help you through the first day, week, and even year that you spend at work after having a baby.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Organic Beginnings Review & Giveaway

Organic Beginings agreed to be a part of our First Birthday Bash! and I am so glad they did. I had only seen their clothing online and was interested in what the real-life quality would be like. They are also doing a giveaway for my readers, and I saved it for last because it's a pretty decent sized one. :-) Organic Beginings is a small mom designed and operated business that creates brightly colored organic clothing for little ones.
Using "primarily cotton, bamboo, wool, silk and flax (linen)" fabrics, all of their clothing holds the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification.

LoveBug tested each of the items (and in these colors) below. Overall, I love the roominess of the clothing. It's perfect for cloth diapers and should fit for quite a while. The fabric is much softer than non-organic cotton clothing, and it's all holding up through many washes. I also haven't had any problem with the colors bleeding or fading, and they look nicer in real life than on Organic Beginings website. Another great thing I've noticed is that the prices for the clothing items is really good, considering the usual cost of organic clothing. The main items (pants, onsies) are all $15.00 each! As well as clothing, Organic Beginings offers some organic blankets and burp cloths in beautiful prints.

The pants are cut with a roomy bottom area, so I don't have to jiggle my baby into them to fit them over her bubble but. :-) I like that. I do find with the bright yellow color that it doesn't match every shirt in the cupboard, but you could easily enough buy a matching t-shirt from Organic Beginings if you're concerned with that. $15.00
The bodysuit is probably my favorite item in the bunch. It's so hard to find good onsie-styled t-shirts that actually fit over cloth diapers, so I'm very pleased that this one does. It also isn't cut too wide through the shoulders, which I often find to be problematic. Organic Beginings uses only nickle free snaps for the bottom, so it's easy and safe to use! $15.00

Okay, I LOVE the "blueberry" color that they sent this kimono styled bodysuit to me in! It's vibrant and beautiful at the same time...I need to show you a picture of LoveBug wearing it! The best thing about the kimono bodysuit is that you don't have to put it over your child's head. You just lay it on the floor, wrap it around the baby, and snap it up. The worst thing is that if your child is real wiggly and you aren't exactly sure where each snap is, it's very difficult to put on (I'm telling you from experience to not try to learn how to use this bodysuit while your kid is screaming and trying to run away). Just make sure you practice. $15.00


The knotted baby hat. At first when I opened the package, I wasn't quite sure what to do with this tubular shaped thing that I thought might be a hat. Then I remembered what the photo looked like from their website, and tied a knot. :-) Amara's not a big hat fan, so I wasn't able to keep this on her for long. I think it'd be nice if it was a little bigger--then you could get it on your child easier and just roll up the bottom to adjust the fit if necesarry. Otherwise, I think it'd make a nice newborn hat. Help keep heat in without making them too hot. It's also nice and soft, and of course, has a cute knot it in the top.   $10.00

Buy It!  Visit http://www.organicbeginings.com/ to snag some of their clothes. They just released a new *adorable* onesie that says "I am Organic"! And it's only $10.00. Love it!

Win It! Organic Beginings is giving one of my readers 1 pair of pants, 1 bodysuit, 1 kimono styled bodysuit, and 1 knotted hat! Let me know what size and color you'd like each item in (you can mix and match). Visit their website to find sizing and color details. You must be a subscriber or follower of mine to win. You also must leave a valid email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest ends January 29th, 2010 at noon, EST.


Extra Entries:
* Sporting my regular button
* Sporting my V-Day button
* Emailing some friends with a link about this contest, CC me in: lifemoresimply @ yahoo.com
* Faving me on Technorati, Digging me, or otherwise voting me up somewhere
* Spread the word through a social network (like Facebook) with a link!
* Blog about this contest
* Tweet about this contest with a link (1x/day)
* Otherwise spreading the word--tell me how!
* Entering another First Birthday Bash! contest (limit one extra entry per contest).

This review is based on free product samples sent to me by the company. The opinions expressed are entirely mine.

Mom to Mom--iron rich foods for kids?


So yesterday at our WIC appointment, they did a finger stick anemia test for LoveBug. And she is low! Her iron level was 10.3 and I think they told me the normal level is 11.5. Not good. I was shocked to find out--after all, I'm a good mother and I still breastfeed her when I'm with her. That should take care of any iron deficiency, right? Wrong! I was wracking my brain trying to come up with ideas on what to feed her when my husband told me over the phone (after the appointment) that some friends of ours had given us some beef from their naturally raised cows. I refuse to let LoveBug eat red meat from "normal" sources (nor do I eat it), and we don't exactly have money for groceries right now, anyway, so to find out someone had given us some healthy red meat...WOW! I'm every so greatful and it couldn't have come at a better time.


My question to you is: what 14-month-old-child-friendly foods do you feed your children that have a high iron content, and how do you prepare it?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dadoo Kids Review and Giveaway!


Dadoo Kids sent me an organic cotton onesie to use for Lovebug. Designed and made in California, Dadoo clothing is oh-so-soft organic cotton and bamboo blends, printed with water based inks, functional, and made with room to play in. The first thing that struck me about the Blowfish Onesie is how much more fun the design is in real life. For some reason, looking at the picture just makes me think about a blowfish. One my daughter, however, I think about how cute of a print it is as it wraps around her belly.

I have no complaints at all about this onesie. It is soft, well made, and actually fits over her cloth diapers! In comparing this t-shirt to an equivalent sized Gerber or Carter t-shirt, Dadoo wins by a large degree thanks to the quality and fit. We've washed and re-washed this shirt and so far it hasn't shrunk, faded, pilled, stretched, faded, or anything else! It's one of my favorites to grab out of the drawer, and it'll also be cute in the summer with just a pair of shorts or a skirt.

Dadoo Kids makes some other real cute clothing, including a new twirly dress with leggings that I think are adorable:


The only problem that I forsee for people is the price of the clothing. I don't think that anything's over priced for the craftsmanship and product that you're getting--and you're buying something made in the US!--but I do know that many of our budgets won't allow for us to buy a $36.00 onsie. :-( Bah. What I do have to say, though, is that if you're like me and wish you could clothe your child in organic, fitting, and lasting clothes all of the time, Dadoo Kids is a great place to start and you'll be happy with what you buy! The people you will be in contact with are personable, friendly, and timely, plus you have me standing behind their product. :-)

Buy It! Visit http://www.dadookids.com/ to view their selection of clothing.


Win It! Dadoo Kids is offering to give one of my readers an organic cotton t-shirt or onsie for free! Please indicate if you'd like a t-shirt or onesie, gender, and size (check their website for sizes). Leave your comment here letting me know these things, and you'll be entered! You must be a follower or subscriber of mine to enter. Pelase leave a separate comment for each entry and include a valid email address. Contest ends January 29th, 2010 at noon, EST.

Extra Entries:
* Sporting my regular button
* Emailing some friends with a link about this contest, CC me in: lifemoresimply @ yahoo.com
* Faving me on Technorati, Digging me, or otherwise voting me up somewhere
* Spread the word through a social network (like Facebook) with a link!
* Blog about this contest
* Tweet about this contest with a link (1x/day)
* Otherwise spreading the word--tell me how!

Review is based on free product samples given to me by the company. The opinions expressed are all mine!

Upcoming Valentine's Day Celebration

Valentine's Day Celebration!


Life More Simply's button


Beginning on February 1st, Life More Simply will begin telling you about unique and fabulous gift ideas for Valentine's Day. Including reviews, giveaways, and DIY projects, you won't want to miss out! The list of participating companies is growing by the day, but some of your favorites will be here, including:
Vivabox
Alex and Ani
BedVoyage
The Friendship Stone
Pacific Jewlery Designs
...and MORE!

Grab the Valentine's Celebration button before the event begins, and earn an extra entry into every V-Day contest that you want! (check side bar to grab the button)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cookies for Breakfast

I've had a difficult last two days. First, my sister made me an Aunt (HOORAY!!!!). That was the good part. The bad part was that her son started having respiratory distress and had to be flown to a different hospital to be placed in a NICU. Being 20 hours away from her and entirely broke, there is no way I can go to be with her right now. My heart is simply breaking for what she must be experiencing, having her child taken away with little explanation, being left alone in an unfamiliar hospital (her husband went to be with the baby), and then having to figure out how to pump since she can't nurse her baby. Wow. Please check out their post here.

Next, one of my best friend's mother died last evening. My friend is only 30-years-old, and her father died of an unexpected massive heart attack only two years ago! My heart breaks for her as well. *sigh*

Thirdly, and very minute in comparison to the above, my daughter didn't sleep for even an hour straight last night. I think she's teething again because she wants to use me as a pacifier when teeth are about to come in. So on top of having pregnant hormones and the emotions of this weekend, I didn't get any sleep. I'm at work today and just want to be at home and in bed. I'm telling myself that it's okay because I basically got to spend the ENTIRE night praying for my beautiful sister, her husband, and their sweet new baby. And my own sanity.

Seeing as how you're all people with real lives, too, I thought maybe someone else could use some encouragement today. So instead of continuing my 1st Birthday Bash!, I will be postponing that until tomorrow and will leave you with this today: Eat Cookies for Breakfast.

On Saturday, Lovebug woke me up early and demanded to go play in the living room. While I dozed on the couch, I heard her get very quiet. I called her and told her to come to me, but all that I was met with was some jabbering--no toddler. After a minute, I decided to walk around the couch and investigate. This is what I found:


My 14-month-old daughter, eating a giant chocolate chip cookie for breakfast. She found the cookie wrapped in plastic wrap in the bottom of my purse-bag. After disecting the contents of my wallet (hence the pile behind her), she was immediately distracted upong realizing there was not only plastic and card stock pieces in my bag, but food, too. The cookie was leftover from a lunch I had at work, and silly me, had left in my bag.



So just in case you are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, just remember: it may be because you didn't eat cookies for breakfast.


Prayers Needed!

Please, please join me in rocking the Heavens with prayers for my sweet little nephew, sister, and brother in law! Baby N, who just happens to be the one to make me an Aunt, was born yesterday, January 10th. He is 4 weeks premature, and didn't have trouble immediately after birth. A little while after birth, however, he began to have trouble breathing. Gasping, hiccuping, grunting, and continued whimpering led the doctor's at this military hospital to whisk my sister's new baby boy away from her to do testing.

Later that day, Baby N was flown to a hospital an hour's drive away, leaving my sister alone in the hospital with no baby and no answers. Her husband went to be with their baby, who was intubated and sedated for the flight.

Today, my sister was released early from her hospital so that she can be with her son who is now in a NICU. He has since been extubated and is in an oxygen enriched incubator in a private NICU room. The doctor's have still not given a firm prognosis or diagnosis regarding Baby N, though they did find a heart murmor (which we aren't real worried about since that's fairly common). He was unable to nurse due to all of this, and was apparently not given any nutrition at all until the hospital staff put a nasogastric tube in this morning around 2 AM (about 16 hours after his birth). He is now breathing on his own, but continues to be under some sedation while still grunting periodically.

My sister and brother in law are litteraly 20 hours away from where all of our family lives. My parents were able to fly out to be with them last night, but my sister was all alone until today as her husband went to be with the baby.

Specific prayer needs:

1) Peace, comfort, and joy to surround my sister and her husband.

2) Swift and miraculous recovery, healing, and development for Baby N.

3) Wisdom and knowledge to be had by the medical staff to quickly and accurately diagnose and treat Baby N.

4) Swift and complete healing for my sister. She underwent a not so nice labor and delivery, and the medical staff exacerbated some of the situations. Since she won't be able to rest much, now, she is especially in need of a quick healing.

5) For Baby N to learn to nurse even though the golden "window of opportunity" has passed by.

6) For any feelings of guilt to be removed, and for a strong bond to form between mommy, daddy, and baby!


Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your prayers around the world. I so wish that I had the money to fly out and be with my sister right now, but the next best thing I can offer to her is knowing that many people are holding her new family up to the God of all healing and comfort right now. Please feel free to share any comments for their family below, and I will make sure that they receive them.